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SDOUIIOI LIBS. 



THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

Education 



Louise Farrow Barr 



I PEGGY 






Books by Laura E. Richards. 

" Mrs. Richards has made for herself a little niche apart in the liter- 
ary world, from her delicate treatment of New England village Ufe." — 
Boston Post. 



THE CAPTAIN JANUARY SERIES. 

CAPTAIN JANUARY. i6mo, cloth, 50 cents. 

A charming idyl of New England coast life, whose success has been 
very remarkable. One reads it, is thoroughly charmed by it, tells 
others, and so its fame has been heralded by its readers, until to-day 
it is selling by the thousands, constantly enlarging the circle of its 
delighted admirers. 
SAME. Illustrated Holiday Edition. With thirty half-tone pictures 

from drawings by Frank T. Merrill. 4to, cloth, I1.25. 
ilBLODY. The Story of a Child. i6mo, 50 cents. 

" Had there never been a ' Captain January,' * Melody ' would easily 
take first place." — Boston Times. 
SAilB. Illustrated Holiday Edition. With thirty half-tone pictures 

from drawings by Frank T. Merrill. 4to, cloth, #1.25. 
MARIE. i6mo, 50 cents. 

" Seldom has Mrs. Richards drawn a more irresistible picture, or 
framed one with more artistic literary adjustment.*' — Boston Herald. 

" A perfect literary gem." — Boston Transcript. 
NARclSSA, and a companion story, IN VcRONA. itmo, cloth, 

^o cents. 
** Each is a simple, touching, sweet little story of rustic New England 
life, full of vivid pictures of interesting character, and refreshing for its 
unaffected genuineness and human feeling." — Congregationalist. 
JIM OP HbLLAS; or. IN DURANCE VILb, and a companion 

story, BETH BSD A POOL. i6mo, 50 cents. 
SOME SAY, and a companion story, NEIGHBOURS IN CYRUS. 

i6mo, 50 cents. 
ROSIN THE BEAU. i6mo, 50 cenU. A sequel to " Melody." 



ISLA HERON. A charming prose idyl of quaint New England life. 

Small quarto, cloth, 75 cents. 
NAUTILUS. A very interesting story, with illustrations; uniquely 

bound, small quarto, cloth, 75 cents. 
FIVE MINUTE STORIES. A charming collection of short stories 

and clever poems for children. Small quarto, cloth, $1.25. 
THREE MAROARETS. One of the most clever stories for girls 

that the author has written. i6mo, cloth, handsome cover design, 

$1.25. 
ilARQARET MONTFORT. The second volume in the series of 

which " Three Margarets " was so successful as the initial volume. 

i6mo, cloth, handsome cover design, $1.25. 
PEQQY. The third volume in the series of which the preceding ones 

have been so successful. i6mo, cloth, handsome cover design, $1.25. 
LOVE AND ROCKS. A charming story of one of the pleasant 

islands that dot the rugged Maine coast. With etching frontispiece 

by Mercier. Tall i6mo, unique cover design on linen, gilt top, #1.00. 



T^ana Estes 6r Company, Publishers, Boston. 



PEGGY 



LAURA E RICHARDS 



KUiurtmttli bi 
ETHELDRED B. BARRY 



BOSTON 

DANA ESTES & COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



Copyright, i8gg 
By Dana Estes & Company 



Sducatloa 

GIFT 



Colonial H^xvax 

Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co. 
Boston, Mass., U. S. A. 







^F(> 






K 


5/^ 






r? 






E 


cilLC. 




CONTENTS. 


it 


ihf^r^^ 


CHAPTER 
I. 


♦ 

A New World .... 




PAOB 
11 


II. 


The Box from Fernley 




31 


III. 


In th|j "Gym." .... 




51 


IV. 


Enter the Scapegoat . 




72 


V. 


To THE Rescue .... 




89 


VI. 


The Owl's Nest .... 




102 


VII. 


Wedding Bells .... 




121 


VIII. 


By Moonlight .... 




141 


IX. 


Faculty Meeting and Bedlam . 




160 


X. 


Teacher and Pupil . . 




182 


XL 


Decoration — and Other Things 




194 


XII. 


An Adventure .... 




210 


xin. 


Peggy Victrix .... 




224 


XIV. 


On Spy Hill 




240 


XV. 


What Was the Matter with Lobelia 






Parkins? 


. 


253 


XVL 


The Terror by Night 


. 


268 


xvn. 


Waiting 


. 


279 


xvm. 


The End and the Beginning 


. 


297 



SCO 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PAGE 

« < Peace be to thi8 dwelling ' " (p. 79) Frontispiece 
«* Bertha, look at this, will you?'" . . 36 

"Up THEY WENT, HAND OVER HAND." ... 69 

The Grand Tell in the Owl's Nest . .120 

« < Here I Take my hand and scramble out ' " 207 
u With one of her sudden movements she had 

THROWN OFF HER ASSAILANTS "... 237 

« < Oh, Grace, she has fainted I ' " . . . 272 

"*We four against THE WORLD T " . . . 308 



N 



PEGGY. 



CHAPTER I. 



A NEW WORLD. 



" Miss Montfort ! " said the Principal. 

Peggy looked about her. 

" I wonder if it's another cousin ! " she 
said to herself. " It can't be, or Margaret 
would have known. Dear Margaret! now 
if she were only here, she could answer, and 
everybody would — " 

" Miss Montfort ! " said the Principal again, 
rather sharply. 

" Isn't that your name ? " whispered the girl 
who sat beside Peggy. "You'll have to an- 
swer, you know ! " 

Peggy started violently, and, looking up, 
met the Principal's eyes bent upon her. She 



11 



12 PEGGY. 

struggled to her feet, feeling herself one 
blush from head to foot. 

^^I — I beg your pardon!" she faltered. 
" I didn't suppose — did you mean me ? " 

" You are Miss Montfort, are you not ? " 

" Oh, no ! my cousins are both — that is, — 
I am just Peggy ! " 

There was a general titter, which the Prin- 
cipal checked with her pencil. "Young la- 
dies ! " she said in a warning tone. " Miss 
Montfort, you will have room No. 18, in the 
second corridor. You will be alone for the 
present." 

" Oh, goody ! " cried Peggy. " I mean — 
I'm ever so much obliged, thank you ! Can 
I go now ? " 

" You may go now ! " said the Principal, 
with a slight emphasis on the auxiliary. 

Peggy stumbled over the foot of the girl 
next her, stepped on her own dress, tripped 
and came to her knees ; picked herself up, 
with a sound of rending cloth, and finally 
got out of the room. This time the titter 
was not so easily checked. Peggy heard it 
rippling behind her as she fled. Even Miss 



A NEW WORLD. 13 

Russell smiled as she rapped on the desk, and 
said one word to herself : " Untrained ! " 

But the girl who had sat beside Peggy- 
rubbed her foot, which hurt a good deal, and 
said three words : " Poor little thing ! " 

No. 18 in the second corridor was a good- 
sized room, with two windows, one of them 
crossed on the outside by a fire-escape. Its 
present aspect was bare and unhomelike. 
The furniture consisted of an iron bedstead, 
a bureau and wash-stand, two chairs and a 
small table, all neat, but severely plain. The 
small square of carpet on the floor was a 
cold gray mixture with brown flowers on it. 
As Peggy Montfort looked about her, her 

• 

heart sank. Was she to live here, to spend 
her days and nights here, for a whole endless 
year? She thought of her room at home, 
the great sunny room that she shared with 
her sister Jean. That had four windows, 
which were generally flung wide open; it 
was bare, because she and Jean liked to 
have plenty of space for gymnastics and 
wrestling; but that was a homelike, accus- 
tomed bareness, and they loved it. The 



14 PEGGY. 

great old four-post bed, with the round balls 
on which they loved to stand and perform 
circus tricks ; the hammock slung across one 
end ; the birds' nests and hawks' wings that 
adorned the walls in lieu of pictures ; the 
antlers on which they hung their hats, — all 
these, or the thought of them, smote Peggy's 
stout heart, and sent it lower and lower down. 

A maid knocked at the door: here was 
Miss Montfort's trunk, and would she unpack 
it, please, as the man would be coming again 
to take the empty trunks to the attic. 

Peggy fell to work with ardour; here, at 
least, was something to do, in this strange, 
lonesome place. Arriving in the afternoon, a 
day or two after the beginning of school, her 
lessons were not to begin till the next morning. 

Every dress, as she lifted it out, seemed a 
bit of home. Here was the triangular tear 
in her blue gingham, that Jean mended for 
her. One could hardly see it now ! Dear 
Jean ! she was neat-handed, and she had a 
little look of Margaret, the same soft hair 
and clear, quiet eyes. Here was her beloved 
bicycle skirt ! Ah, there was something 



A NEW WORLD. 15 

heavy in the pocket. Peggy explored, and 
drew forth an apple ; that brought the tears, 
which were not very far off in the first place, 
and there was a good deal of salt in the 
apple as she ate it. She was so determined 
to make the best of everything, however, 
that she fought back the homesickness that 
was rising like a flood within her, and even 
managed to whistle a tune as she hung up 
her dresses and laid her stockings and hand^ 
kerchiefs in the drawers. Then the shoe-bag 
must be hung against the closet door, the bag 
that Margaret had made and worked with 
her initials. Dearest Margaret! and here 
was the pincushion that Flora gave her, and 
the writing-case from Brother Hugh — Oh ! 
she would write to him every week of her 
life, indeed she would ! and so on and so on. 
When the trunk was empty, the room 
looked less forlorn, though still pretty bare, 
for in Peggy's home little thought was given 
to anything not of practical use. The door 
was open, and happening to look up she 
caught a glimpse of the opposite room, on 
the other side of the narrow corridor. Here, 



16 PEGGY. 

too, the door stood open, and Peggy gazed open- 
eyed. A greater contrast could hardly be 
imagined. Here every available inch of wall- 
space was covered, with jAiotographs, with 
Japanese fans and umbrellas, with posters 
and ribbons and flags. The room itself was 
choked, it seemed to Peggy, with chairs and 
tables, low tables covered with books, with 
cups and saucers, with knickknacks of every 
possible description. The whole effect was 
bewildering, but so gay and cheerful that 
Peggy sighed as she glanced back at her own 
bare white walls, at the bureau with its sober 
brush and comb, and the polished table where 
the writing-case lay in solitary state. She 
could not imagine living in a room like that 
other: she should stifle, and throw half the 
things out of the window; but it would be 
nice to have just a few more things ! If she 
had only thought! Jean would have been 
glad to share the nests with her, and she 
could have had the rattlesnake skin, for had 
she not killed him herself? and then there 
were the fossils ! 

As Peggy meditated, steps came along the 



A NEW WORLD. 17 

corridor, and halted at her door. A face 
peeped in. "May I come in?" asked the 
girl who had sat beside her in the class-room. 

" Oh, do ! I wi^ you would ! " cried Peggy, 
eagerly. " I am so glad to see you ! Sit 
down ! I wanted to tell you — you were aw- 
fully kind to let me know she meant me. 
You see, I never was called Miss Montfort 
in my life before." 

The girl sat down, and looked kindly at 
Peggy. She was a singular-looking girl, 
short and dark, with a curious effect of 
squareness in her thickset figure. Her face 
was plain, but one forgot that when one met 
the bright, intelligent gaze of her dark eyes. 

" I ought to introduce myself ! " she said. 
"My name is Bertha Haughton. I'm a 
neighbour of yours. No ! " she added, laugh- 
ing, as Peggy glanced involuntarily across the 
way. " That is Vanity Fair. I don't live 
there ; I live in the Owls' Nest, some way 
down the corridor." 

" Are all the rooms named ? " asked Peggy, 
wondering. 

" Most of them, on this corridor, at least. 



18 PEGGY, 

There's Vanity Fair and Rag Fair and the 
Smithsonian Institute on the other side — oh ! 
and the China Shop and the Corner Grocery, 
too. And on this side is ours, the Owls' 
Nest, and Bedlam, and the Soap Factory, and 
the Nursery, and this room of yours." 

" Oh, how interesting ! " cried Peggy. " Do 
tell me what the names mean ! Why Owls' 
Nest ? " 

"Oh, well, we got the name of studying 
hard, that's all. We don't study harder than 
ever so many others, but in our freshman 
year we — my chum and I — passed an ex- 
amination that a good many failed in, and so 
we got the name of owls. That's really all ! 
And the China Shop — well ! Ada Bull had 
it last year, and she had a mania for china- 
painting ; and that with the name, together, 
you see ! Then there is the Soap Factory, — 
that is quite a story ! you really want to hear 
it ? well ! 

"You know we are not allowed to buy 
candy, or to have it sent to us. This girl's 
mother — I won't tell her name, she's in 
college now — was a very silly person, and 



A NEW WORLD. 19 

she sent her a great box of chocolate, five or 
six pounds (though she knew the rules, mind 
you !), all done up like soap/' 

'' Like soap ! " repeated Peggy. 

" Yes ! the box was marked soap, and the 
chocolate was in little cakes, just like the little 
sample cakes of soap they send round, don't 
you know? and each cake wrapped up in 
paper, with ' Savon de Chocolat ' stamped on 
it. It came from Paris, I believe. 

^^Well, of course the girl ought to have 
told Miss Russell at once, but she didn't. 
She kept the box under her bed, and told all 
the girls she knew ; and of course they kept 
coming into her room all day long, and her 
pocket was always full, and, however it hap- 
pened, at last Miss Russell suspected some- 
thing. One day she came suddenly upon 
Margie in the hall, and saw that she was 
eating something, and asked her what it was. 
We're not allowed to eat going about the 
house, of course. Margie had just bitten off 
half a cake, apd she had the other half in 
her hand, with the printed side up, ^ Savon 
de Chocolat ! ' and she said ' Soap ! ' 



20 PEGGY. 

" ' Soap ! ' said Miss Russell. 

" ' Yes ! ' said Margie. ' Soap, Miss Rus- 
seU.' 

" The Principal looked at her a minute, and 
then I suppose she smelt the chocolate. She 
told her to wait, and then she went into her 
own room and came out with a little cake of 
tar soap — sample cake — that looked for all 
the world like chocolate soap. 

" ' Pray try this ! ' she said, as grave as a 
.judge. ' I am sure you will find it excellent. 
I must insist upon your trying it, since you 
have a taste for soap.' 

" Poor Margie ! she had a good deal of 
pluck, and when she saw there was no help 
for it, she took a bite of the soap. But 
it was too horrid; she couldn't swallow it. 
She choked, and ran to her own room ; the 
Principal followed her, and then the whole 
story came out. Margie never told us just 
what Miss Russell said. The chocolate was 
sent to the Orphans' Home next day, and she 
was a pretty serious girl for some time after. 
So now you know why that room is called the 
Soap Factory." 



ii 



A NEW WORLD. 21 

" That's a splendid story ! " cried Peggy. 
Why, I think this is great. Did this room 
have a name, too ? I'm sure it must have ! 
Do tell me what it is ! " 

A queer look crossed the dark girl's face. 

" It has been called Broadway ! " she said. 
" I hope it may be changed now." She hesi- 
tated, and was about to speak again, when 
two girls came along arm in arm. 

" Look ! " said Bertha Haughton. " There 
are your opposite neighbours. Vanity and Vex- 
ation of Spirit. I'll call them over and 
introduce them." 

" Oh, please don't ! " cried Peggy, under 
her breath, catching her companion's arm. 
But it was too late. 

" V. v.," called Bertha, in her clear, hearty 
voice, "come and be introduced to Miss 
Montfort." 

The girls turned and came forward, one 
eagerly, the other rather unwillingly. 

"Miss Viola Vincent, Miss Vivia Vam- 
ham," said Bertha Haughton, " this is Miss 
— Peggy, did you say ? — Miss Peggy Mont- 
fort." 



22 PEGGY. 

■ 

Miss Vamham simply bowed, but Viola 
Vincent advanced with outstretched hand. 

"How do you do?^^ she cried; and she 
lifted Peggy's hand to the level of her chin, 
and shook it gently from side to side. " Aw- 
fully glad to see you ! It's been too perfectly 
horrid to have this room empty; hasn't it, 
V?" 

" A great bore ! " assented Miss Varnham, 
who looked thoroughly bored herself. 

Both girls had entered the room, and were 
standing, looking about them. Peggy stood, 
too, feeling unspeakably shy and awkward, 
and not • knowing what to say. Bertha 
Haughton gave her a quick, friendly glance, 
and made a slight motion with her head 
toward a chair. Peggy started, and coloured 
violently. 

" I beg your pardon ! " she stammered. 
" Won't you sit down ? here are two chairs ; 
and you and I can sit on the bed ! " she 
turned to Miss Haughton with an air of 
relief ; she seemed already an old friend. 

Peggy's timid glances at the newcomers 
showed her that they belonged to a species 



A NEW WORLD. 23 

unknown to her. Living on a great prairie 
farm, she had known no girls save her sisters 
and the two cousins with whom she had spent 
a happy summer at Fernley House, the home 
of her uncle, Mr. John Montfort, a year before. 

But neither sisters nor cousins, nor Bertha 
Haughton herself, bore any resemblance to the 
two young women who now seated themselves 
on her two straight-backed chairs. Both were 
dressed in the extreme of the fashion, which 
was not a specially graceful one. Both 
wore their hair elaborately dressed, with a 
profusion of gold and silver pins, a passing 
fancy easily carried to extravagance. Both 
were pretty, and there was even a „fci^d of 
likeness between them, though it vanished 
when one looked closely. Viola Vincent had 
limpid blue eyes, and long lashes which she 
had a way of dropping, as she had been told 
that they looked well on her cheek, which was 
clear and delicately tinted. She smiled a good 
deal, and in doing so showed a pretty dimple 
in one cheek. Ill spite of a certain affecta- 
tion, Peggy thought her charming. 

Vivia Varnham was less attractive, in spite 



24 PEGGY. 

of her bright hazel eyes and pretty fluffy 
hair ; there was a supercilious lift to her eye- 
brows, an unamiable droop to the corners of 
her mouth. Peggy did not make this analy- 
sis ; she only thought, " I shall not like her, 
I know I sha'n't ! " 

The girls chattered away without much 
regard to her, and she only half understood 
their talk. 

" My dear ! Have you heard ? " This was 
from Viola to Bertha Haughton. She patted 
herself all over while she talked, now her 
hair, now her collar, now her blouse, little 
approving pats. 

" You never hear anything, you owls ! 
When is the Snowy coming back ? She has 
been away forty years ! I simply can't exist 
without her. Why, my dear, we are to have 
the straw-ride after all. Miss Russell says we 
may. Isn't it perf 'ly fine ? " 

"Are you sure?" said Bertha Haughton, 
doubtfully. " You know last time she said 
we couldn't go again, because Grace acted so, 
pulling out the linch-pin and dropping us all 
into the road." 



A NEW WORLD. 25 

"My dear, I know! that's just it! The 
Goat went to her this morning and said she 
would stay at home and do double lessons if 
the rest of us could only go. Noble of the 
Goat, I call it ; only it won't be half so much 
fun without her, and Billy gone, too. Oh, 
you can't possibly imagine how we miss Billy. 
How forlorn this room looks without all her 
pretty things ! " She glanced about the room. 
" Perf'ly awful, isn't it ? " she said. 

Poor Peggy flushed scarlet. Bertha Haugh- 
ton flashed her a glance of indignant sym- 
pathy. 

" Billy had the room simply ridiculous ! " 
she said, hastily. "Almost as bad as your 
toyshop, Vanity. I can't abide a frippy 
room ! " 

Viola Vincent opened her blue eyes wide. 
"What ruffled you up. Fluffy?" she said. 
"I didn't* say anything about the Nest." 
Then, happening to glance at Peggy, she 
realised what she had said, and blushed a 
little herself. 

" I'm sure I didn't mean anything ! " she 
cried, with a little giggle. " Of course when 



26 PEGGY. 

Miss Montfort gets all her things out and 
arranged, it will be quite charming, I'm sure 
it will." 

" I haven't any more things ! " said honest 
Peggy. She managed to keep her voice 
steady, but the tears would come into her 
eyes, and she raged at herself. 

" Oh, you'll accumulate them ! " said good- 
natured Viola, who liked to have people com- 
fortable, if it did not take too much trouble. 
" Won't she, V. ? We had hardly anything 
when we came, had we, V. ? Barns, my dear, 
were nothing to us, were they, V. ? " 

" Oh, of course not ! " assented Miss Varn- 
ham ; but her smile was so like a sneer, and 
her glance about the room so cold and con- 
temptuous, that Peggy felt dislike hardening 
at her heart. 

^^What is all that noise in the entry?" 
exclaimed Bertha Haughton, anxious to 
change the conversation. "It sounds as if 
an elephant were coming to call." 

Viola Vincent fluttered to the door, patting 
her waist affectionately as she went. 

"My dear!'' she cried, in high-pitched 



A NEW WORLD. 27 

staccato tones. " It's a box, an express box. 
Oh, it's a perfect monster, a mammoth ! Vi, 
this must be your dresses. Hurrah ! we'll 
havei a grand trying on." 

Vivia Varnham looked out. A burly ex- 
pressman was staggering forward with an 
enormous box, almost as big as a packing- 
case. 

" Take it in there ! " she said, imperiously, 
motioning across the corridor. " Put it down 
carefully, mind ! Miss Varnham, is it ? " 

"No, miss," said the man, respectfully. 
"Miss Montfort!" 

" Me ! " cried Peggy, starting to her feet. 
" Oh, there must be some mistake. I wasn't 
— there's nothing coming for me." 

" It must be for you ! " said Bertha Haugh- 
ton. " There is no other Miss Montfort in the 
school. Look at the address, and you may 
know the handwriting ! " 

Peggy looked. In a clear, bold hand was 
written : 

Miss Peggy Montfort, 

At Miss Russell's School, 

Pentland. 
Glass, with care. All charges paid. 



28 PEGGY. 

" Oh ! " she cried, clasping her hands. " It 
is for me ! It's from Uncle John ! Oh, what 
do you suppose — what can it be ? " 

^^ Bring it in here, please," said Bertha 
Haughton, quietly, to the man, who still 
stood balancing the box. '^ There ! set it 
against the wall ; thank you ! Now," as the 
man departed, " we need a screw-driver. Have 
you one, Viola ? " 

" My dear ! I had one, but the Goat broke 
it, using it for a step, you know, to get up to 
the next story. I use a can-opener now, but 
that will only do for small boxes. I don't 
have — well. State Houses, coming every 
day," she added, with a good-natured laugh, 
glancing at the great box. 

Bertha Haughton ran to fetch a screw- 
driver from her room, and the other two 
girls moved toward the door. Vivia Varn- 
ham looked black. She had made sure the 
box was for her, and felt aggrieved at the 
stupid freshman who appropriated it. Viola 
Vincent, on the other hand, was delighted. 
"I'm awfully glad!" she said. "It's simply 
dandy, having a box come. Ta, ta ! I hope 



A NEW WORLD. 29 

it will be something perf'ly splendid, dresses 
and hats and all kinds of giddiness. I love 
giddiness ! When you want to be giddy, you 
must come to us; the Owls are too worthy. 
There's Fluffy back again with the screw- 
driver. Ta again ! Awfully glad ! " 

Peggy was half inclined to ask Viola to 
stay, but still it was rather a relief when the 
opposite door closed. Whatever the box con- 
tained, she could not have enjoyed it with 
those sharp, cold eyes of Viola Varnham 
looking on. 

" Here is the screw-driver ! " cried Bertha, 
out of breath with her flight along the cor- 
ridor. "It's very strong, you need not be 
afraid of pressing on it. Can I do anything 
more to help you ? If not, I must go. I hope 
it is something very nice indeed ! " 

" Go ! you ! " cried Peggy. " Oh, must 
you ? Can't you stay and help me see what 
it is ? It isn't any fun opening boxes alone," 
she added, piteously. 

The girl does not live who would not rather 
unpack a box than eat her dinner. " If you 
are sure you want me," said Bertha. "I 



30 PEGGY, 

didn't want to be in the way, that was 
all." 

" In the way ! Oh, Miss Haughton ! Why, 
you are the only friend I have here in this 
lonesome place." 

" If I am going to be your friend, I am not 
going to be Miss Haughton another minute. 
Do you really want me to stay, Peggy ? " 

" I do. Bertha, indeed I do." 

" Honour bright ? " 

" Honour brightest ! " 

" Hurrah, then ! And now for the box ! " 



CHAPTER n. 

THE BOX FROM FEENLET. 

The box was no ordinary rough affair, 
knocked together for simple purposes of trans- 
portation. It was neatly and carefully made, 
the edges fitting closely together, the lid 
furnished with hinges. 

" We must take care how we open this ! " 
said Bertha. " It would be a shame to spoil 
such a fine box." 

Peggy was used to tools of every descrip- 
tion, and she drew out the screws deftly, then 
lifted the lid. Both girls bent eagerly for- 
ward. Nothing was visible but white paper, 
neatly fitted to the top of the box. Yes ! on 
the paper lay a card, on which was written, 
" For Peggy's housekeeping. From Uncle 
John and Margaret, with best love." 

The handwriting was Margaret's, and Peggy 

31 



32 PEGGY. 

seized and*kissed it before going further. ^^It 
is Margaret ! " she said. " Dear, darling 
Margaret, the best friend I have in the world. 
Oh, how dear and kind and lovely of them 
both ! What do you suppose they have sent 
me?" 

" Suppose we see ! " said Bertha Haughton. 
Yet both girls lingered a moment, tasting the 
joy of suspense. 

It was not a joy to be long indulged, how- 
ever. Together they lifted the paper, and 
lo ! more paper, but this time enveloping vari- 
ous mysterious packages neatly tied with pink 
tape. 

" Margaret's tape ! " cried Peggy. " Uncle 
John gave her a great big spool of it, because 
she said she had never seen enough in her 
life. Oh, what a fat bundle ! You shall 
open it, Bertha, because you have been so 
good to me." 

" Open your bundle ! " cried Bertha. " In- 
deed I will not ! I never heard of such a 
thing. Be quick, though, for I do want to 



see. 



The big square parcel revealed an afghan. 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 33 

knitted in long stripes of red and blue, the 
colours rich and warm, and harmonising 
pleasantly. 

" Oh, what a beauty ! " cried Bertha, while 
Peggy gazed in silent delight. " My dear, it 
warms the whole room ! and the length of it, 
and the breadth ! why, it will go on double. 
I never saw such a splendid one." 

Indeed, the great afghan had been Mar- 
garet's "pick-up work" ever since she first 
heard that Peggy was going to school, and 
loving thoughts were knitted into every stripe. 

"What next?" said Bertha- "My dear, 
sofa-pillows !" 

So they were, four of them, each prettier 
than the other. 

"But what shall I do with them?" said 
Peggy, with a comical glance around the room. 
" There's no sign of a sofa. Never mind ! 
they are perfect beauties. Oh, and what can 
this be ? Oh, Bertha, see, it is a bookcase ! " 

The six pieces of polished wood were quickly 
fitted together, and there was indeed a book- 
case, not very large, but still ample to contain 
all the books Peggy would be likely to need. 



34 PEGGY. 

" Where are your books ? " asked Bertha, 
innocently ; and Peggy hung her head. 

"My Bible is in my drawer/' she said. 
"I — I didn't bring any other books. I'm 
a dreadful dunce/' she added, timidly. " I 
might as well tell you now, for you'd find it 
out anyhow, the very first time you talked 
about books. I don't — care — about them, 
much." 

" Oh ! '* and Bertha looked a little blank, 
being a bookworm herself. " But there must 
be some books you are fond of, Peggy ? " 

Peggy shook her head despondently. " I 
don't beUeve there are," she said. " Oh, of 
course I like ' Treasure Island,' and ' Robin 
Hood,' and that kind of thing. But history, 
and the Waverley Novels — why, Margaret 
would like to read the Waverley Novels all 
day; and they put me to sleep in five 
minutes." 

She looked anxiously at her new friend, to 
see the effect of this dreadful confession ; but 
Bertha only laughed. " Well, I love the 
Waverleys very much myself," she said ; 
" but I know everybody doesn't care for 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 35 

them. But when you want to read, Peggy, 
what do you do ? " 

" But I don't want to read/' said Peggy, 
humbly. "It — it seems such a waste of 
time ; except Coues, of course, and he wouldn't 
go in my trunk, and Pa is going to send him 
by express." 

" What do you mean ? " asked Bertha, puz- 
zled in her turn. " Cows ! " 

" Yes, the book, you know ! Oh, I couldn't 
live without that." 

" Do you mean a herd-book ? Of course, 
you said you lived on a farm. You mean that 
you study pedigrees and that kind of thing ? " 

Now it was Peggy's turn to laugh, as she 
explained that she meant Prof. J. Elliott 
Coues' s admirable book on birds. 

"Pa has Samuels," she added, "but I 
couldn't bring that, because it is out of print, 
and too valuable. Besides, he isn't so thorough 
as Coues, don't you know, especially in anat- 
omy and that part. Is there a good class in 
anatomy here? Of course I shall want to 
join that." 

" Oh, dear ! " cried Bertha, in comical dis- 



36 PEGGY. 

may, " I don't know ! Peggy Montfort, you 
are not a dunce at all; you are just sham- 
ming. The idea of any one wanting to study 
anatomy ! " 

"The idea of wanting to study anything 
else/' cried Peggy, " except physics and 
geometry. It's this horrible literature and 
stuff that I cannot bear. But we can't stop 
and talk, with the box only half unpacked. 
Oh, pictures ! Now I do like pictures, when 
they are the right kind. Bertha, look at this, 
will you ? " 

With difficulty she lifted out a large pic- 
ture which filled the box from end to end. 
Both girls uttered a cry of delight. It was 
the "Automedon" of Henri Regnault. The 
great horses rearing and plunging, the heroic 
figure of the charioteer, seemed to take Peggy's 
breath. "It — it's the kind of thing you 
dream about, isn't it?" she said. "They are 
alive; I believe they'll break through the 
glass in another minute. Oh, there can't be 
anything else as splendid as this ! " 

But when she drew out next a fine photo- 
graph of " The Night Watch," she hardly 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 37 

knew what to say. The gleaming eyes of the 
lions, prowling among 'the ruined colinnns, 
fascinated her almost as much as the wild 
horses had done. She had less to say to the 
beautiful photograph of the Sistine Madonna, 
which came next; yet she looked at it with 
eyes of wistful affection. It was Margaret's 
favourite picture, and she loved it on that ac- 
count as well as its own. Yet her taste was 
for "critters," as she freely acknowledged; 
and she glowed again as Bertha held up an 
engraving of " Sheridan's Ride," with the 
great captain riding straight out of the pic- 
ture at her. 

" That's the kind of thing she wants ! " 
Mr. Montfort had said, when he and his niece 
Margaret were having their delightful " Peggy- 
lark," as he called it. "The Sistine by all 
means, Meg ; but no more old masters for our 
Peggy. She won't understand them, and she 
won't like them. What was it she said about 
your pet St. Anthony ? " 

" She said he looked as if he had gone out 
for clams and fallen into the mud ! " said Mar- 
garet, rather ruefully. "I suppose you are 



38 PEGGY. 

^ 

right, Uncle John; but, oh, do look at this 
lovely Murillo angel! How could she help 
loving this?" 

"The anatomy of it would distress her," 
said Mr. Montfort, dryly. " You know Peggy 
is strong on anatomy. Better take the ' Auto- 
medon.' " 

" Which you said was out of drawing ! " 
cried Margaret, with a flash of mischief. " Oh, 
if you are going to put false ideas into her 
head, Uncle John — " on which she was very 
properly told to choose her pictures, and not 
be saucy. 

The last picture in the box had not been 
chosen in any picture-shop ; and at sight of it 
Peggy sat down on the bed and began to cry. 

" Oh, dear ! " she said. " What shall I do ? 
Oh, Margaret, Margaret, what shall I do ? " 

Kind-hearted Bertha was distressed. " Don't 
cry, dear ! " she said. " I know ! I know 
just how it feels. Is it your father and 
sister ? " 

" No ! oh, no ! " said Peggy, wiping her 
eyes. " Of course it's different with Pa and 
the girls, because I shall be going home every 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 39 

vacation, you know. But I never was so 
happy in all my life as I was there ; and 
seeing it — it is Fernley, and Uncle John 
and Margaret." 

The large photograph showed a stately 
house shadowed by lofty trees. Standing on 
the stone verandah were two figures, one, that 
of a tall man in a black velvet coat, with 
bright dark eyes; the other a slender girl 
with a sweet, thoughtful face. Both seemed 
to be looking straight at Peggy, and she felt 
Uncle John's kind look and Margaret's tender 
smile like warmth at her heart. 

"I — Fm only crying because — I'm — 
glad ! " she said. And Bertha seemed to 
understand that, too. 

But the wonderful box was not yet empty ; 
it really seemed like the famous bag of the 
Fairy Blackstick. Out came a gay Oriental 
cloth, which made another thing of the chilly 
little polished table ; item, a bureau-cover 
embroidered with gold-coloured chrysanthe- 
mums ; item, a wonderful work-basket, fitted 
with everything that a needlewoman's heart 
could desire; item, a spirit-lamp and a hot- 



40 PEGGY. 

water bottle, and a neat little tool-chest. 
Peggy sighed over the work-basket, and re- 
solved to do her very best, but at sight of the 
tool-chest her eyes sparkled, and she seized 
upon it with delight, and caressed each shining 
implement as if it were a living and beloved 
creature. 

" Did you ever see such a little duck of a 
saw ? " she cried. "Oh, I must go to work 
and make something this very day. Only, 
these two dears have sent me everything that 
I could ever possibly need. What is that. 
Bertha ? There can't be anything more ! " 

There could, though, and was. The bottom 
of the box was fitted with a cushion or mat- 
tress of chintz, chrysanthemums again, on a 
pale green ground ; and the last parcel of 
all contained several yards of the same ma- 
terial. 

" What do you suppose — Oh, I see ! " 
cried Peggy. '" The box, — we wondered why 
it was such a good box, don't you know ? It 
is to be a kind of sofa, or window-seat, or 
something ; and this is the cushion, and the 
rest is for a flounce and curtains. Oh, dear. 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 41 

did you ever hear of anything so perfectly 
lovely ? Dear Uncle John, dear Margaret ! " 
and she wept again, and, in default of Mar- 
garet, hugged the biggest sofa-pillow, a won- 
derful affair of soft yellow silk, with ruffles 
and puffles. 

'' Come," said Bertha, " this will never do, 
Peggy ! We must get these all arranged 
before tea, mustn't we ? The gong will sound 
in a few minutes." 

Peggy dried* her tears, and the two girls 
went to work with right good will. In ten 
minutes the dreary room was as cheerful and 
homelike a place as heart could desire. The 
pictures were hung (I forgot to mention that 
the fairy box contained picture-hooks and 
wire, hidden away in a corner), the cushions 
fitted, the chintz tacked in a neat flounce 
around the box, which straightway became a 
divan, and looked positively Oriental with the 
pillows heaped with careful carelessness on it. 

Peggy stood and surveyed the whole effect 
with shining eyes. " When the curtains are 
up — " she said, and looked inquiringly at 
Bertha. 



42 PEGGY. 

" When the curtains are up/' said Bertha, 
"it will be one of the pleasantest rooms in 
the whole school/' 

And then the gong sounded, and they went 
down to tea. 

A throng of girls was pouring into the 
great dining-room. Few of them noticed the 
newcomer, being taken up with their own 
concerns, laughing and chatting, hurrying to 
their places ; yet Peggy felt as if all eyes 
were upon her. She clung t;lose to Bertha 
Haughton's arm ; but now that friendly arm 
was drawn away. 

"I must leave you here, Peggy," said 
Bertha. 

" Oh, don't leave me ! Oh, can't I sit by 
you?" asked poor Peggy, in an agonised 
whisper. 

" No, dear, I have to go over there, quite 
to the other side of the room. See, Miss 
Russell is beckoning to you. You are to sit 
at her table, with the other freshmen. Cheer 
up, Peggy, it'll be all right after the first 
minute." 

Bertha nodded kindly, and took her way 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 43 

across the hall, while Peggy stumbled along, 
tripping over several dresses (she always 
stumbled when she was embarrassed), to the 
table where the Principal sat. There were 
six tables, twelve girls to each table, with a 
teacher at the head. Miss Russell greeted 
Peggy pleasantly, and it occurred to our 
friend for the first time that the Principal 
was not a Gorgon, but a human being, with 
a grave face, it is true, but with kind and 
friendly eyes. 

" I trust you have been resting after your 
journey. Miss Montf ort ! Yes ? That is 
good. Coming so late yesterday you did not 
meet your classmates, who had already gone 
to their rooms. Miss Parkins, Miss Barclay, 
Miss Manton, — this is Miss Peggy Montfort. 
I hope you will introduce her to the other 
young ladies after tea." 

The three girls nearest Peggy bowed, all 
more or less shyly ; it was comforting to feel 
that there were others who felt as strange as 
she did. In fact, Miss Parkins, who sat on 
her left, was so manifestly and miserably 
frightened that Peggy felt herself a lion by 



44 PEGGY. 

comparison, and, by way of improving ac- 
quaintance, asked her boldly for the salt. 

Miss Parkins gasped, shivered, clutched 
the pepper-pot, and dropped it into her own 
plate. The other freshmen giggled nerv- 
ously, but Peggy glowed with compassion and 
sympathy. 

" Never mind ! " she whispered. " That's 
just the kind of thing I am doing all the 
time. There is the salt; why, I can reach 
it myself, and nobody ever wants pepper, 
anyhow. There, that's all right ! " 

The girl lifted a pair of eyes so red with 
crying, so humble and grateful and altogether 
piteous, that Peggy's own eyes almost over- 
flowed. She put her hand under the table, 
found a little limp, cold paw, and gave it 
a hearty squeeze. " Cheer up ! " she said. 
"It'll be better pretty soon, I — I guess. 
I am — homesick — too ! " 

Then, finding a sob rising in her throat, she 
hastily filled her mouth with buttered toast, 
choked, and caught herself with a wild sound, 
half cough, half snort, that brought the eyes 
of the whole table upon her. The strange 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 45 

thing was, Peggy did not seem to care this 
time. They were only freshmen like herself. 
Any one of them might have choked just as 
well as she, and she was bigger than any of 
them. If those other girls had seen, now ! 
not Bertha, but the other two ! She glanced 
over to the opposite table, where the two V's 
sat facing her; but they were chattering 
away, with no thought of freshmen or their 
doings. Viola Vincent looked very pretty in 
a pale blue blouse and white piqu6 skirt ; she 
was evidently in high spirits, and was patting 
her hair and her waist with perfect satisfaction. 

" Perf 'ly fine ! " came to Peggy's ears, in 
her clear piping voice. " My dear^ it will be 
simply dandy ! " 

Peggy glanced at the Principal, she hardly 
knew why, except that Margaret disliked 
slang ; and she saw her brows contract with a 
momentary look of vexation. " It does sound 
rather horrid ! " she thought. " I wonder if I 
shall have to give up saying ' awfully ! ' That 
would be perfectly awful. Besides, it sounds 
awfully affected to talk like a book all the 
time." 



46 PEGGY. 

Thus meditating, Peggy let her napkin slip 
down to the floor. Her neighbour saw it, and 
both stooped at the same time to pick it up. 
Their heads came together with a violent 
crack. " Ow ! " cried Peggy, and rubbed her 
flaxen poll vigorously. Miss Parkins was too 
frightened to know whether she was- hurt or 
not. " Never mind ! " said Peggy. " It was 
my fault just as much as yours. Did you get 
an awful crack ? Oh ! I mean, did you hurt 
yourself ? " 

The poor girl murmured something, but it 
was more like a sob than a speech; and 
Peggy could only press the limp hand again, 
and resolve that when she knew the girl a 
little better she would try to put some spirit 
into her. Her own spirit was rising. She 
felt that ten pairs of eyes were watching her 
furtively ; that her companions were taking 
notes, and that every spoonful she ate was 
counted and criticised; but still her courage 
was good, and she was even able to notice 
that the biscuits were light and the peach 
preserves delicious. 

I said ten pairs of eyes, for the eleventh 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 47 

had never been lifted above the level of the 
table-cloth, save for that one grateful glance 
over the spilt pepper. Certainly Miss Par- 
kins was a queer-looking little person. Very 
small and slight, with a certain wizened look 
that did not belong to so young a face ; a long, 
thin nose, and two small reddish-brown eyes 
that looked as if they had always been given 
to crying. The child — she did not look more 
than a child — had no beauty of any kind; 
yet a certain gentleness of look redeemed the 
poor little face from absolute ugliness. She 
was queerly dressed, too. Her gown was of 
good, even rich material, but in questionable 
taste, and cut in a fashion that might have 
suited her grandmother. Peggy's own ideas 
of dress were primitive, and she was not very 
observant, but she did feel that blue poplin 
stamped with large red roses was not a suit- 
able dress for a schoolgirl, even if she were 
not small and plain and wizened, and even if 
it were not cut in a bygone fashion. 

Peggy saw, or fancied she saw, glances of 
amused contempt thrown at her poor little 
neighbour. 



48 PEGGY. 

" All the more reason/' she thought, "why 
I should make friends with her." 

" Do you — did you come yesterday, or the 
day before ? " she asked, as cheerfully as she 
could. 

" Oh ! yes, I think so ! " was the reply, in a 
gasping whisper. This was not very encour- 
aging, but Peggy proceeded. 

" Did you have far to come ? I came all the 
way from Ohio." 

" Oh ! no, I don't think so ! " 

"It took me all day to get here. It's 
horrid travelling alone, don't you think so ? " 

" Oh ! I — don't know ! I never travelled." 

On the whole, the girl seemed so distressed 
that Peggy felt it would be a cruel kindness 
to pursue the conversation. " I needn't talk 
to the others," she said to herself. " They 
came before I did; they can talk to me if 
they want to." 

But now supper was over, and the girls 
rose with a whirr, like a flock of pigeons, and 
fluttered out of the dining-room. Peggy 
looked longingly after Bertha Haughton ; 
indeed, Bertha seemed to be lingering, look- 



THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 49 

ing for her ; but at that moment two or three 
girls swooped down upon the junior, and 
began a hubbub of questions. Peggy felt all 
her shyness rushing back in a flood. Turning 
to flee, she almost fell over little Miss Parkins, 
who was hastening on her way, too. " Come ! '' 
said Peggy. "We are both strange cats; 
suppose we stay together! What happens 
now, do you know ? This is my first evening 
here. It's awfully queer, isn't it?" 

"Oh!" gasped Miss Parkins. "They — 
she — read something last night. Don't you 
think I might go to my room ? I want to go 
to my room ! Don't you think I might ? " 

" Of course you may ! " said Peggy, on fire 
with sympathy. "It's a pity if you've got 
to hear reading when you don't want to. 
Cut along, young 'un ! " 

Her brother's familiar phrase rose natu- 
rally to her lips ; it was unfortunate that at 
that moment 6ne of the teachers happened 
to pass by. She was «a long, sallow woman, 
with greenish eyes set too near together, and 
the gaze she fixed upon Peggy was appalling 
in its severity. 



50 PEGGY. 

"Young ladies are required to attend the 
reading ! " she said. " Your expression is an 
improper one, Miss Montfort ! " and pinching 
her lips together she passed on. 

" My goodness gracious me ! " whispered 
Peggy. " Who is that ? " 

" Oh ! hush ! oh, don't ! " whispered Lobelia 
Parkins, miserably. " She's going to read 
to-night, because the Principal has a cold ; 
I heard them saying so. That is Miss 
Pugsley ! " 



CHAPTER III. 



IN THE "gym." 



Peggy's pillow was quite damp when she 
went to sleep that night. To be sure she had 
been cheered by a friendly call from Bertha 
Haughton, but even that could not keep the 
homesickness from triumphing, when she was 
left alone, and the sounds in the corridor died 
away, and the hght was out. Home seemed 
so far, so endlessly far away ; she felt so 
utterly alone in the world ! Education seemed 
a foolish and meaningless thing beside the 
love and comfort of home. What would she 
not give to be able to put out her hand and 
feel her sister Jean beside her, warm and lov- 
ing, her own flesh and blood ! 

So the pillow was damp, as I have said ; 
but Peggy was young and healthy, and she 
fell asleep after awhile, and when she woke 

51 



52 PEGGY. 

again the sun was up and the pillow was 
dry. Now she did put out her hand for Jean, 
forgetting where she was ; and finding noth- 
ing but a cold wall, lay looking around her, 
coming back to the present. The room 
looked very strange at first. "Maybe I'm 
not awake ! " said Peggy, wisely ; then she 
pinched herself, and with the pinch the whole 
thing came back. 

" Why, of course ! " she said. " Oh, dear ! 
well, here I am ; and I wanted to come, and 
I've been thinking about it for months, and 
then it goes and is like this ! " She sighed, and 
wondered what they were doing at home, and 
at Fernley ; then she became interested in her 
pretty room, and her heart overflowed once 
more with love to her dear ones at Fernley, 
who had made it so bright and charming for 
her. " I know what Margaret would say ! " 
exclaimed Peggy, raising her head from the 
pillow. " She would say, ' Now you are there, 
my dear, try to make the best of it ; ' and so 
I will ! You hear me ! " These last words 
were spoken aloud with some severity, and 
appeared to be addressed to the brush and 



IN THE "gym." 53 

comb, which took no notice whatever. And 
then Peggy made the best of that moment, 
and got up. 

Breakfast was another ordeal, but not so 
bad as the tea of the night before; after 
breakfast came prayers, and then the class- 
room. Peggy found herself seated at a desk, 
beside one of her classmates. Rose Barclay, 
a pretty brunette, with rosy cheeks and bright 
dark eyes. In the brief pause before study- 
time, the two girls made acquaintance, and 
Peggy learned that theirs was the largest 
freshman class the school had ever had. All 
the others were in the west wing, where the 
freshmen belonged. 

" You came late," said Rose Barclay, " and 
that's why you are over among the Jews and 
Seas. That's what they call the juniors and 
seniors; I've learned so much already!" she 
said, laughing. " They seem to have nicknames 
for everything and everybody in this place." 

" Yes ! " said Peggy. " Even the rooms 
are named ! " and she told of Vanity Fair and 
the Owls' Nest. 

" Corridor A ? " asked Rose Barclay. " Oh, 



54 PEGGY. 

they must be Jews. That is Judea, I am 
pretty sure ; and the Senior Corridor is the 
Mediterranean. It's awfully silly, isn't it? 
and yet it's funny, too. I suppose we shall 
get into the swing of it after awhile. You 
homesick ? " 

Peggy nodded. 

" So'm I ! Cry last night ? " 

Peggy nodded again. 

"So did I! but not so much as the girl 
next door to me. My! she must have cried 
about all night, I should think. I woke up 
two or three times, and she was crying every 
time, and I heard her sniffing in her bath 
this morning." • 

"Why didn't you go in and try to cheer 
her up?" demanded Peggy, rather fiercely. 

Rose Barclay stared. "Oh, I couldn't 
do that ! why, I've never spoken to her ; it 
was that queer little piece that sat next to 
you. Besides, she looks as if she'd die if 
any one spoke to her." 

The school was called to order, and Peggy 
soon forgot homesickness and everything else 
in the keen joy of mathematics. 



IN THE "gym/' 55 

She had chosen the scientific course — 
there were three courses in the school — in 
order to get as much of practical and as little 
of literary knowledge as might be. Geometry- 
was her delight, and it was geometry over 
which she was bending now. 

Most of the teachers at Pentland School 
expected httle of the new pupil from Ohio. 
The written examinations that Peggy had 
passed had caused many a head-shaking. The 
history teacher sighed ; the gentle mistress 
of English literature groaned, and said, " Why 
must this child come* here?" Only Miss 
Boyle, the mistress of mathematics, had 
nodded her head over the papers. " Here's 
a girl who knows what she is about ! " she 
said. Accordingly, when Peggy entered class 
this morning, she was surprised at the cor- 
dial greeting she received from the bright- 
eyed lady at the central desk ; and an inde- 
finable sense of being at home and among 
friends stole gradually over her, as she 
wrestled with one delightful problem after 
another. 

Rose Barclay, at her side, was biting her 



56 PEGGY. 

pencil and twisting her pretty forehead into 
hard knots, and making little progress ; but 
Peggy had forgotten her existence. The 
period passed like a moment, as theorem after 
theorem was disposed of. 

" Let EDF and BAG be two triangles, hav- 
ing the angle E equal to the angle B, the 
angle F to the angle C, and the included side 
EF to the included side BC ; then will the 
triangle EDF be equal to the triangle BAG ? " 

" Of course it will ! " Peggy drew triangles 
in swift and accurate demonstration. " Put 
the side EF on its equal BG, and let the 
point E fall on B, and the point F on G. 
Then, you see, of course — " 

" I don't see how any one is ever to do this ! " 
murmured her neighbour, in despair. " Why ! 
why, you've done yours. Oh, just let me 
see, won't you ? I never can work it out in 
the world, so do let me copy yours ! " 

Peggy reddened to the tips of her ears. 
" Do you — can you — are we allowed to do 
that ? " she stammered. 

" Oh ! Just as you please ! " said Rose 
Barclay, coldly. '^ I thought you might be 



IN THE ^^GYM." 57 

willing to oblige me, that's all. It's of no 
consequence ! " 

" Oh ! But you don't understand ! " whis- 
pered Peggy, eagerly; but Rose had turned 
away, and paid no heed to her; and Miss 
Boyle tapped with her pencil and said, 
" Young ladies ! No whispering in class, if 
you please ! " 

In a few minutes a bell rang, and all the 
girls sprang up in great relief ; geometry was 
not generally popular, and now came the 
"gym" hour, dear to all. Peggy turned at 
once to her neighbour, sure that she would be 
able to explain everything to the satisfaction 
of both. To her amazement and distress she 
met a look so cold and hostile that it seemed 
to freeze the words on her lips. 

" Miss Barclay ! " she said, imploringly. 
"You didn't understand me, indeed you 
didn't. I should be perfectly delighted to 
help you, of course I should, only I thought 
it might be against the rules. Of course, I 
might have known you would know what is 
allowed. I'm awfully sorry ! " 

Rose Barclay hesitated ; her face seemed 



58 PEGGY. 

to soften for a moment ; then it hardened 
again, and another change came over it which 
Peggy did not comprehend. 

" I don't know what you mean ! " she mut- 
tered. " Please excuse me, I am in a hurry." 
She was gone, and Peggy, turning in great 
distress, found Miss Boyle standing at her 
elbow. Had she heard? Peggy was sure 
she could not have heard, for there was no 
look of surprise or of anything peculiar in 
her pleasant face. 

" You like geometry. Miss Montfort ? '' 

" Oh, yes, I love geometry ! Oh, please, 
are we allowed to help each other, Miss 
Boyle ? " 

" Certainly not ! " said Miss Boyle, quietly. 
"Not upon any account. You can see for 
yourself that there would be no use in a girl's 
taking geometry if she cannot do the work 
herself." 

" Yes, I see ! I thought so, only — thank 
you very much. Do you — shall I go now ? " 

She looked around, and was startled to see 
that all the other girls had disappeared, and 
she was alone with the teacher. 



IN THE "gym." 59 

Miss Boyle smiled, and her smile was so 
friendly that it warmed poor Peggy's heart. 

" Yes, you may go now," she said ; " but 
I shall hope to see something of you, Miss 
Montfort. If you will come to my room 
some evening, I will show you some pretty 
problems that are not in the text-books." 

With this, the highest compliment she could 
pay a pupil. Miss Boyle went on her way j and 
Peggy, after wandering through two or three 
deserted class-rooms, and breaking in upon a 
senior committee-meeting of a highly private 
nature, and walking into a pantry, found 
herself at last in the gymnasium. 

This was a lofty and spacious room, fitted 
with every possible appliance for gymnastic 
exercises. Peggy's eyes brightened as she 
gazed about her, at the rope-ladders, the 
parallel bars, the rings and vaulting-horses 
and spring-boards. If this were not Para- 
dise, Peggy did not know what was, that 
was all. 

Some of the girls were already arrayed in 
blouse and full trousers, and were taking 
their place in ranks, under the eye of an 



60 PEGGY. 

alert, graceful young woman in a pretty 
dark blue suit. Others were hurrying up 
from some apartment on a lower floor, and 
from the stairway came a hum of voices 
which showed that others were still making 
ready. 

Bertha Haughton, in crimson blouse and 
black trousers, hurried up to Peggy. 

" Here you are ! '' she cried. " I have been 
trying to find you. Where are your gym 
things? Haven't got any? Oh, how too 
bad ! " 

" I didn't know ! " said poor Peggy. " It 
didn't say in the programme, did it ? Can't I 
do anything without them ? Oh, dear." 

Her face, so bright a moment before, 
clouded so instantly with disappointment and 
mortification, that the experienced junior could 
hardly repress a smile. 

"My dear! my dear!" she cried. "Do 
wait till I tell you. You can wear the 
Snowy's things. She hasn't come back yet, 
and you can wear them just as well as not 
till she comes." 

" The Snowy ? " repeated Peggy. She re- 



IN THE " GYM." 61 

membered vaguely that she had heard the 
name, but it meant nothing to her in her 
trouble. 

" Yes, my chum, the Snowy Owl. I'm the 
Fluffy one, don't you remember ? The Snowy 
is a bit taller than you, but that is no matter ; 
you can wear them perfectly well, I tell you. 
Come along, and I'll get you into them." 

Peggy hung back, protesting faintly against 
appropriating the clothes of a person she had 
never seen ; but finally she yielded to Bertha's 
vigorous pulls, and followed her down a wind- 
ing stair, into a narrow room filled with a 
hubbub of girls in every stage of dressing 
and undressing. Viola Vincent fluttered up 
to her (it is difficult to flutter in a gymna- 
sium suit, and only Viola's supremely butter- 
fly quality enabled her to do it), a charming 
vision of pale blue, with a profusion of tiny 
brass buttons twinkling wherever a button 
could be put. 

" Here you are ! " she cried, airily. " I 
haven't seen you for an age. I've been tell- 
ing everybody about you, the V. V's vis-^-vis. 
It sounds so quaint, doesn't it ? I adore quaint- 



62 PEGGY. 

ness. How do you like my new suit, Fluffy ? 
Isn't it too cute for anything? This is the 
first time I've worn it; I think it is too 
perfectly sweet to live in, don't you?" 

" I hope not ! " said Bertha, laughing. 
"We should be sorry to have you pass 
away, Vanity, because your dress is too 
sweet." 

" No, but really ! " continued Viola, ear- 
nestly. "Do I exaggerate. Fluffy? Isn't it 
the sweetest thing you ever saw ? I ask be- 
cause I want to know, you know ! " 

Bertha's only reply was to pull her pink 
ear good-naturedly, and then dive head-fore- 
most into a locker. 

" You find the Fluffy quaint ? " said Viola 
to Peggy. " Yes ? she is quaint, but delicious ! 
So is the Snowy ! I simply could not exist 
without them; they are the guiding stars of 
the corridor, don't you know ? What are you 
about, Fluffy ? What are you doing with the 
Snowy's togs ? She has not come back, no ! " 
clasping her hands in ecstasy. "JDorit tell 
me the Snowy has come back. Fluff ! " 

" I certainly won't ! " said Bertha, coolly. 



IN THE "gym." 63 

"She isn't coming back till day after to- 
morrow. Peggy Montfort is going to wear 
her things till her own are ready, that's all. 
Don't excite yourself too much, Vanity ; it'll 
take the colour out of your hair." 

" No ! Do you think so ? " replied Viola ; 
" really ? ah ! here's V., ready at last. What I 
have to endure, V., waiting while you prink, 
no tongue can tell. Ta, dears, come up 
soon ! " and she fluttered away, arm in arm 
with her chum. 

"Is she always like that?" asked Peggy, 
bewildered. 

" Who ? Vanity ? Oh, yes ! there's no possi- 
ble harm in Vanity; she is really the best 
hearted creature in the world. The other, 
though, — well, you want to be a little on 
your guafd with Vivia. Oh, we are the best 
friends in the world, of course ; only, her 
temper is a little uncertain at times, and it's 
just as well to know about it. There ! why, 
the trousers fit you to perfection ! " The 
trousers, as wide as the Flying Dutchman's, 
certainly fell comfortably enough about Peg- 
gy's stout knees. 



64 PEGGY. 

" Now for the blouse ! I'll put it over your 
head ! " 

A silent but breathless struggle followed, 
from which Peggy emerged panting and crim- 
son, but victorious. " Oh, I do hope she — 
your chum — won't mind!" she cried. "I 
am so afraid I shall get them dirty ! " for it 
was a whim of the Snowy Owl's to wear a 
white gym suit, and it was as fresh as if it 
were just out of the tub, as indeed it was. 

" Oh, that is no matter ! She washes them 
every week ; she likes to wash ; it's one of her 
accomplishments. Come along now ! " 

They ran up-stairs, and found the class just 
forming in ranks. A gesture bade them fall 
into line with the rest, and Peggy stood with 
her toes on a chalk mark, waiting the word 
of command. 

It came. " Left foot forward — fall out ! " 
At the command every girl put out her left 
foot as far as she could, and flung her whole 
weight forward on it. Peggy did the same, 
and fell on her nose with a resounding crash. 
The class giggled, but were sharply checked 
by the teacher. 



IN THE "gym." 65 

" We will try this once more. Try to bal- 
ance the body carefully ! Take time ! Once 
more ! Left foot forward — fall out ! " 

Again the line dropped forward with one 
motion ; and again our poor Peggy fell on her 
nose. " This time the nose protested in its way, 
and bled ; great crimson drops fell on the white 
plumage of the Snowy Owl. Almost crying 
with distress and mortification, Peggy felt for 
her handkerchief. Alas ! she was not used to 
trousers, and no pocket could she find, though 
there was one, and her handkerchief was in 
it. What should she do? She was just 
about to make a bolt for the stairs, when a 
handkerchief was thrust into her hand. She 
clapped it to her suffering nose, and looked 
gratefully at her left-hand neighbour in the 
ranks. The girl nodded slightly, and said, 
" All serene ! better ask leave to retire. Hold 
arms over head, stop it ! " She was a slender 
girl, with a pensive face and melancholy blue 
eyes. Her hair was plainly parted, Madonna- 
fashion, and there was something remote and 
old-world about her whole look and air. 

"Oh, thank you!" murmured poor Peggy. 



66 PEGGY. 

" You're awfully kind ! " She hoped the tire- 
some bleeding would stop on the instant, but 
it did not ; she was obliged to ask leave to go 
down-stairs; and receiving it, dashed down 
headlong, and cannoned violently against 
Vivia Varnham, who had gone down for 
something she had forgotten. 

" Oh, I beg your pardon ! " gasped Peggy. 
" I'm — awfully clumsy — " 

" I think you are ! " said the other, with 
a flash of her hazel eyes. " Perhaps you'll let 
me pass now, please, before you make another 
exhibition of yourself." She went on, with 
a scornful toss of her head. 

Poor Peggy ! her tears flowed fast over the 
friendly handkerchief. "I wish I was dead ! " 
she sobbed. " I wish I had never come to 
this horrid, odious place, where everybody is 
so hateful. And I can't hold up my arms 
when I have to hold this to my nose all the 
time." 

" Quite so! " said a quiet voice behind her. 
The sad-looking girl took her hands and held 
them straight up in one of her own, the other 
keeping the handkerchief in position. No 



IN THE "gym." 67 

word was spoken, but in five minutes the 
bleeding was stopped. 

" Basin ^ — water ! " said the stranger. "Don't 
mention it ! " as Peggy tried to falter her 
thanks. And she was gone. 

Peggy waited tUl she felt sure of herself 
and her nose. Then she spoke severely to 
herself, and asked what Uncle John would 
say to such behaviour. " Everybody isn't 
hateful ! " she said. "And anyhow, there are 
some things there that I can do, if I haven't 
learned this trick. I won't give up till I've 
gone up that rope." 

Her eye had been caught by a stout rope 
dangling from the ceiling. This was in her 
own line, and she felt that if she could redeem 
herself in her own eyes, she should not care 
so much about all those other laughing eyes. 
And yet, perhaps she thought more about 
those eyes than she was aware of, for our 
Peggy was very human. 

This time fortune favoured her. As she 
emerged from the lower regions, a girl was 
just trying to climb the rope; in fact, there 
were three ropes hanging side by side, and 



68 PEGGY. 

the climbing of them was part of the regular 
exercise. She sought Bertha, who was most 
sympathetic, not having been near enough to 
help Peggy. 

^^ Climb the rope? Oh, you'd better not 
try that, Peggy ! it takes a lot of practice. 
Why, I've been here two years, and I can't 
get to the top yet. Really, it's very hard. 
Let's come and swing on the ring, if you are 
quite sure about your poor nose." 

But Peggy did not want to swing on the 
rings, nor to do anything else that Bertha 
proposed ; she wanted to climb that rope, and 
she meant to do it ; the prairie blood was roused. 

"Well, I'll ask Miss Brent," said good- 
natured Bertha, finding her determined. " You 
say you have had some experience in climbing? 
Perhaps she'll let you go a little way up." 

Miss Brent, interrogated, came and looked 
Peggy over carefully ; felt her muscles, asked 
her a few questions, and then said, " You may 
have the next turn, Miss Montfort." 

The girl on the rope next her was having 
a sad time of it. She swung this way and 
that; her legs waved wildly in the air, and 




I 66 



"UP THEY WKNT. HAND OVER HAND. 



»> 



IN THE "gym/' 69 

at length she came down "all abroad/' hav- 
ing only ascended a few feet. At the same 
moment, the girl on the next rope dropped, 
so that two were left unoccupied. Peggy 
advanced and laid her hand upon one rope, 
just as Vivia Varnham took possession of the 
other. On the third, the pensive girl with 
the Madonna braids was swinging easily, half- 
way up to the ceiling; she twisted her feet 
around the rope, and, so resting, observed. the 
progress of the other two. 

Up they went, hand over hand. Vivia 
Varnham gave a glance of disdain when she 
saw who her rival was. She was light and 
agile, and did not for an instant think that 
this heavy, clumsy creature could make any 
headway against her. She went up lightly and 
easily, but somehow the heavy, clumsy creature 
managed to keep abreast of her; was even 
gaining upon her, drawing up, up, above her 
head. Vivia put on a spurt, and passed 
Peggy, climbing very swiftly — for a moment ; 
then the ache in her wrists compelled her to 
slacken her rate of speed, and the thickset 
figure came up, up, steadily and surely. Truth 



70 PEGGY. 

to tell, though Peggy Montfort was awkward, 
she was as strong as a steer. Her weight 
was not fat, but sheer bone and brawn ; and 
her one hundred and forty pounds were easy 
enough for her to carry, even up a rope thirty 
feet long. But Vivia Varnham, with all her 
lightness and quickness, had little strength in 
her wrists. They ached painfully, but she 
would not give up. Her face flushed, her 
breath came in distressful gasps, she strug- 
gled on and up. They were more than half- 
way up ; they had passed the quiet observer, 
swinging comfortably with her feet twisted in 
her rope. "Better go down, V.!"said the girl 
with the sad eyes. " She's too many for you ! " 

Vivia shook her head with an angry ges- 
ture. Her eyes swam, the pain in her wrists 
was unendurable ; but she set her teeth, and 
struggled on, till from below came the voice 
of Miss Brent, calm and authoritative. 

"Come down, Miss Varnham! You have 
gone far enough." 

Most unwillingly, with sullen face and flut- 
tering breath, Vivia slid to the floor. She 
expected, everybody expected, to hear the 



IN THE "gym." 71 

order repeated for the benefit of the new- 
comer, the audacious freshman who had ven- 
tured upon junior ground ; for the rope- 
climbing was not generally attempted till the 
third year. But Miss Brent kept her eyes on 
Peggy, and smiled, and made no sign. 

Peggy was enjoying herself immensely. 
She was not a swift climber, but there was no 
tiring her, and this, as she said to herself, 
was " great ! " She wished Margaret could 
see her ! No ! It would frighten dear Mar- 
garet. Rita, then ! Rita loved feats of skill ; 
probably she could climb far better than she, 
Peggy, could ; Rita was so light, so graceful, 
so fearless. 

A shout rang from below. Something 
passed her on the next rope, light and swift 
as a bird in flight. She could almost touch 
the ceiling now ; she looked up ; there, at the 
very top of the next rope, was her friend of 
the dressing-room, gazing at her with melan- 
choly blue eyes, and holding out a slender 
hand. 

" Shake ! " said the girl with the Madonna 
braids. 



CHAPTER IV. 

ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 

Peggy was sitting alone in her room that 
evening, studying, when there rose a hubbub 
outside her window ; wheels, and the tramp- 
ling of horses, and girls' voices. She ran to 
the window and looked out; there was a 
great hay-rigging, drawn by four stout horses, 
and comfortably lined with straw. Girls 
were climbing into it on every side, and more 
and more came pouring out of the house. 
It was full moon, and their faces shone so 
clear and merry in the light, that Peggy 
could not help feeling a pang, not of envy, 
but of longing. Of course there had been no 
question of her going ; it was a junior affair ; 
but they all looked so happy and jolly, and it 
was so lonely here ! As she stood longing, 
Viola Vincent popped her pretty head in to 
say good-bye. 

72 



ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 73 

"Thought you might like to see my 
toque ! " she said, fluttering in the doorway. 
" It's the first time I have had it on. Isn't it 
dandy ? Isn't it perfectly sweet ? " 

Peggy thought it charming, and said so; 
she was rapidly losing her heart to her pretty 
butterfly neighbour. 

" I thought you'd like to see it ! " said 
Viola, naively. " It makes it easier to study, 
if you see something pretty. Ta, dear! I 
wish you were going. We shall have a dandy 
time, simply dandy ! " 

She fluttered out, and left the door ajar 
behind her, so that Peggy could not help hear- 
ing the half-whispered colloquy that ensued 
in the corridor. 

" Went to say good-bye to the Veezy Vee. 
Why shouldn't I ? " 

"Why should you? You'll have her 
around your neck if you don't take care, 
like a lump, as she is." 

"Hush, v.! you're quite vinegar, aren't 
you? Why? She's perfectly harmless, and 
I find her quaint. You know I adore quaint- 
ness ! " 



74 PEGGY, 

"Oh, come along, and don't talk flum- 
mery to me ; you know I can't stand it." 

The two passed on, and Peggy's ears 
burned uncomfortably. Evidently Vivia Varn- 
ham had taken a violent dislike to her ; well, 
she certainly returned it. And of course 
that would prevent her from ever seeing 
much of the other, sweet pretty thing. Well, 
of course she should have to be alone most 
of the time. She went to the window again, 
and saw the two Vs climbing in ; then there 
was a great shouting and waving of handker- 
chiefs, and they drove away. Peggy sighed, 
and sat down once more to her task. It was 
rhetoric, and her whole nature cried out 
against it ; but the study was prescribed, and 
the teacher. Miss Pugsley, was reported to be 
very strict. Peggy put her elbows on the 
table, and her head on her hands, and bent 
in good earnest over the book. 

" ' Both prepositions and conjunctions are 
called connectives.' 

" Oil, dear ! then why can't we call them 
connectives, and have one word to remember, 
instead of three ? 



ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 75 

"^When I say the hen barks' — why, 
that makes nonsense ! Oh, I got two lines 
mixed up. ' When I say the dog barks, I 
speak of some particular dog.' Well, any- 
body can see that. Oh, I do wonder if Flora 
will remember to wash Peter's ear, where he 
had the canker ! It was almost well, but still 
it will need washing. Dear Peter ! dear dogs ! 
they will miss me, I know they will. If one 
could only have a dog here, it wouldn't be 
half so bad. I could have a basket for him 
to sleep in, you know, and then in the morn- 
ing he would get up on the bed, and we'd 
have a beautiful time. There's a dog barking 
now ! He wants to be let in, poor dear ! How 
perfectly idiotic some people are, not to know 
what a dog wants. I remember that stupid 
man at home beating poor Peter, — beating 
him with a hoe, when all the time Peter was 
telling him that a tramp was stealing the 
melons. Yes ; but when Petie saw that the 
man was an idiot, he went and attended to 
the tramp himself, and you never saw a 
tramp so scared in your life. Oh, dear! 
weUf 



76 PEGGY. 

" ' He was in the room, and went out of it.' I 
wish I could go out of this room ; but I don't 
know where I should go to. Bertha went, of 
course, with the others. If it wasn't for 
Bertha, I really don't think I could possibly 
stay here." 

A knock at the door ; and Bertha's square, 
cheerful face looked in. " Any chance to 
study here? there's something the matter 
with my lamp, why, — Peggy!" 

For Peggy had jumped up and thrown her 
arms around her friend's neck, and given 
her a hug which took her breath. 

" Oh, you dear ! " cried Peggy. " I never 
was so glad to see anybody in my life. Here, 
take this chair. Bertha. Oh, it was just 
lovely of you to come in. You knew I would 
be forlorn, I know that was why you came. 
But why didn't you go on the straw-ride? 
I supposed of course you had gone." 

" One question at a time," pleaded Bertha ; 
"and I can't answer any if you destroy my 
breathing apparatus, Hippolyta." 

" Why Hippolyta ? " 

" Oh ; she was Queen of the Amazons, don't 



ENTER THE SCAPEGOATS. 77 

you know ? Only because you are so strong, 
my dear." 

"No," said Peggy, dolefully. "I never 
heard of her. Margaret would know, but I 
am awfully stupid, I told you I was. Do you 
have rhetoric, Bertha ? " 

" Not this year. I had it the first two 
years. It's not so bad ; in fact, I was rather 
fond of it." 

Peggy gazed at her in such unfeigned 
amazement that Bertha could not help laugh- 
ing; but there was never any sneer in 
Bertha's laugh. " Come ! " she said. " Now 
we'll sit down and study our prettiest. See ! 
I have a lot of Greek to do. Peggy, don't 
look like that ! What is the matter ? " 

Peggy had recoiled in horror, her blue eyes 
opened to their widest extent. 

"Greek!" she cried. "You don't — I 
sha'n't have to take Greek, shall I ? because 
I would rather die, and I should die ! " 

" Nonsense ! no, I don't know that you will 
have to take it at all. What course have you 
taken, — scientific? Oh, no, you don't have 
Greek in that. What have you had to-day ? " 



78 t PEGGY. 

" Geometry ! Of course that was splendid/' 

" Oh, indeed ! was it ? " 

" Why, yes ; I just love geometry. I could 
do it all day, but we only have it one hour/' 
And Peggy looked injured. 

" Well," said Bertha, " you are a queer girl, 
Peggy Montfort. But there'll be one happy 
person in this school, and that is Miss Boyle." 

" I don't understand you ! Don't most girls, 
— don't you like geometry. Bertha ? " 

" My dear, I regard everything in the shape 
of mathematics with terror and disgust. I 
don't know any geometry, nor any algebra. 
I've been through them both, and the more 
I learned, the more I didn't know. As to 
arithmetic, I know that four quarts make a 
gallon, and that really is all my mind is equal 
to. But if you won't let me study my Greek, 
Peggy, I shall go home again to the Nest." 

" Oh, I do ! I will ! " cried poor Peggy ; 
and there was silence for a time, both girls 
studying in earnest, the silence only broken 
by the turning of a page, or a heartfelt sigh 
from Peggy as she dealt with parts of speech. 

So thoroughly were they absorbed in their 



ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 79 

task that they did not hear sundry noises 
outside the window. The window was open, 
for the night was warm as well as bright; 
indeed, the upper half of it was pushed en- 
tirely down, so that it was like a double half- 
door of glass. Outside this window was the 
black skeleton of the fire-escape ; and if the 
two girls had been on the alert, they might 
have heard various unobtrusive sounds from 
this direction. As it was, they both started 
vi^ently when a clear voice addressed them 
in quiet and thoughtful tones. 

" Peace to this dwelling ! " said the voice. 

Peggy looked up hastily. There, leaning 
on the window-sash, as calm and composed as 
she had been at the top of the rgpe, was the 
stranger with the melancholy eyes and the 
Madonna braids. 

" Peace ! " she repeated. " Piece of pie ! 
have some ! " She held out a large segment 
of pie, and added, "Any admittance for the 
Goat?" 

Peggy was still too startled to find breath 
to answer, but Bertha sprang up, crjdng, 
" Grace ! how could you frighten us so ? " 



80 PEGGY. 

" Not Grace ! " said the stranger, with an 
unmoved countenance. " Goat ! let us not 
deceive the Innocent ! A scapegrace is one 
thing, a scapegoat is another, and from some 
points a preferable one. But the Innocent is 
abroad, I perceive. Innocent, I am the Scape- 
goat. Is there admittance ? " 

" Oh ! " gasped Peggy, blushing and falter- 
ing. " Oh, please come in ! I — I didn't know 
you were waiting for me to — Sha'n't I open 
it from the bottom ? " 

" If you will take the pie," said the stranger, 
gravely ; " thank you ; that is your piece, this 
is mine, — already bitten, or I would offer it to 
the Fluffy." 

Relieved of two large pieces of pie, she laid 
one hand on the sash, and vaulted lightly 
over; then she shook hands solemnly with 
Peggy, took her own piece of pie, and, seating 
herself on the floor, proceeded to eat it daintily. 

" It is a good pie ! " she said. " If not 
afraid of pollution. Fluffy, a bite?" 

Bertha was looking half amused, half angry. 
" Grace, how can you act so ? " she said. 

" How ? " said Grace. " My sweet child, it 



ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 81 

is as easy as breathing. I will give instruc- 
tion at any time, without charge." 

"I thought you were doing double les- 
sons/' Bertha went on, "and being as good 
as gold. Grace, you can be so good 1" 

" Can't I ! " said Grace j her tone was one 
of admiring gravity ; her blue eyes kept their 
look of pensive sadness. 

" And it's a thing I admire, goodness ! " she 
went on, shaking her head. " That's why I 
practise it. Double lessons ? I'll warrant you ! 
this is the second time I have been down here 
to-night, for example ; other things in propor- 
tion." She waved her hand, and fell to again 
at her pie. 

Peggy had been sitting open-eyed, watching 
this singular person, not knowing what to 
say. Now, however, meeting the solemn 
gaze of the large sad eyes, she felt compelled 
to speech. 

" It — it's delicious ! " she said, timidly. 
" Wouldn't you rather sit in a chair, Miss — " 
she hesitated, not liking to say " Grace." 

" Oh, dear ! " said Bertha, still put out. 
^^ You make me forget my manners and 



82 PEGGY. 

everything, Grace. Peggy, this is Miss Grace 
Wolfe ; Grace, Miss Peggy Montfort." 

"Charmed!" said Miss Wolfe. "But we 
have met before, Fluffy, or I should not have 
descended. 

" We met, 'twas on a rope, 

And I thought she had done me ; 
I felt, I could not feel, 
For my fate was upon me. 

"If it hadn't been for your possession 
of peas, you would have beaten me, Miss 
Montfort. As it was, here's to our next 
meeting under the ceiling ! " She took a large 
bite of pie, and regarded Peggy benevolently. 

" Of peas?" repeated Peggy, vaguely, feeling 
that this might be English, but was not sense. 

"Precisely. Avoir du poisy literally, to 
possess a pea ! The French language. But 
you should have seen Vexation ! " this strange 
person added, turning to Bertha. " Did see 
her ? Well, she was a pleasant sight. Noxious 
animal, Vexation ! it is a joy to see her taken 
down occasionally." 

"I notice you are good friends enough, 
where any mischief is afoot ! " said Bertha, 



ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 83 

bluntly. She broke a corner off the pie, and 
added, " Goat, this is mince pie ! " 

"It is! it is!" said Miss Wolfe. "Ever 
discriminating, my own ! and good ? say it is 
good. Fluffy ! " 

" Yes, it is uncommonly good ! " said 
Bertha. " Where did you get it ? You've no 
business to have it, of course ! " 

" I got it out of a bandbox, sweet one ! " 
replied Grace Wolfe. "It lives — they live, 
I should say, for there are three of them, 
thanks be to praise ! — in a bandbox. A 
round one, or, to be more exact, oval in form, 
covered with wall-paper, whereon purple 
scrolls dispute the mastery with pink loz- 
enges. It's the sweetest thing in bandboxes 
that I've seen since time was." 

" Yes, but the pies ! " 

" The pies ! as I was saying, three of them ; 
ample, full moons of rapture ! 

" They came in beauty, side by side, 
They filled one home with glee. 
Their bones are scattered — " 

She paused with an expressive gesture. 



84 PEGGY. 

" The best of it is, — you will admit that 
this is neat, Fluffy, even if your slavery to 
the virtues compels your disapproval, — the 
best of it is, the bandbox is the property of 
our Puggy." 

" Miss Pugsley's bandbox ! Oh, Grace ! " 
" Precisely ! Our Puggy goes heavily with- 
out it, I am told. What would you ? It was 
outside her door, while sweeping was going 
on; one is human, after all. She was out, 
with the best bonnet on her head. Poor head ! 
Poor bonnet ! My hearty commiseration for 
both ! When she returned, no bandbox ! At 
present she harries the domestics ; she hasn't 
thought of me yet, for a wonder. To-mor- 
row, or the day after, I shall finish the pies 
— alas ! Then I return the repository, and 
her bonnet acquires a fine, full, fruity flavour 
that annihilation alone can remove. 

*< You may break, you may shatter 
The tile if you will, 
But the scent of the brandy 
Will cling round it still." 

" Grace ! What a diabolical plot ! and you 



ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 85 

have been lying awake, I suppose, chuckling 
over this ! " 

Miss Wolfe waved her hand in deprecation. 
" Not lying awake, sweet one ! Too slight a 
thing for that; still, it served to amuse. 
One must live, even you will admit that. 
What's this ? Greek ? Give it me ! " She 
stretched out her hand for the book, but 
Bertha held it fast. 

" No ! no. Goat ; I want it myself, and 
besides, you have no business here, you know 
you haven't." 

" No ; and you ? " replied the other, 
coolly. 

"I have permission; my lamp is out of 
order, and I asked Miss Russell if I might 
study in here." said Bertha. " But you will 
get into trouble if you stay, Grace, you know 
you will. Be good now, and go home ! " 

Grace Wolfe gazed pensively at her. 

"You would check the interchange of 
souls ? " she said. " I feel drawn to this 
Innocent, Flu£E ! I feel that she may have an 
influence over me for good. You would not 
part us ? Could'st love a Goat, Innocent ? " 



86 PEGGY. 

she added, turning to Peggy, and fixing her 
eyes on her with mournful intensity. 

Peggy blushed, but before she could reply 
Bertha struck in decidedly. 

" Grace, just one word ! Peggy Montfort is 
a stranger, and I am not going to let her get 
into trouble if I can help it. And I don't 
want you to get into trouble, either ! " she 
added, more gently. " You know, my dear — " 

She stopped suddenly, for Grace Wolfe 
threw up her hand with a warning gesture; 
then, with a single swift movement, she 
rolled under the bed, and was out of sight. 

"Study!" said Bertha, in a low whisper. 
" Study hard ! " 

Wholly bewildered, Peggy fixed her eyes 
on her book. She had heard no sound before, 
but now cam^ a footfall in the corridor. A 
knock at the door, and Miss Russell opened 
it and looked in. 

" Your lamp is in order now. Bertha," she 
said. " I thought I would tell you, as I was 
going by ; but you can stay a little longer, if 
you like. How charming you have made 
your room. Miss Montfort." 



ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 87 



a 



Won't — won't you come in, Miss Rus- 
sell?" stammered poor Peggy, conscious of 
Grace Wolfe's eyes under the bed, yet feeling 
that civility admitted of only one answer. 

" Not now, thank you ! Some day soon 
I shall come and make you a little visit, 
though, with pleasure. Good night, young 
ladies ! " 

She nodded kindly, closed the door, and 
passed on. 

The girls drew breath. A moment, and 
Grace Wolfe rolled out again, rose, and shook 
her neat dress. 

"So much for Buckingham!" she said. 
"The good point about Principie is, she is 
respectable. Now, my Puggy would have 
looked through the keyhole first. But I fore- 
see a visit to my own humble cot, to see 
whether I have learned my lessons. 

" Oh ! Farewell, friends ! 
Here Thisbe ends!" 

She waved her hand, vaulted once more 
over the window, and was gone. An occa- 
sional faint, cat-like sound told of her prog- 



88 PEGGY. 

ress up the fire-escape ; then a window 
creaked slightly overhead, and all was silent. 

Bertha Haughton ruffled up her curly black 
locks with a gesture of exasperation. 

" And the worst of it is/' she said, " that 
girl will know her Greek better than any one 
in class. That's half the trouble ; she learns 
so quickly, her lessons don't take half her 
time, and she puts the rest into mischief." 

" She seems awfully clever ! " said Peggy, 
timidly. 

Bertha nodded. "She is just that, my 
dear; awfully clever! I'll tell you more 
about her to-morrow, but now we must study 
hard, for we've only twenty minutes left. 
Only, my dear, when you think of the Goat, 
remember three things: she is D. D. D., — 
dear, delightful, — and dangerous ! " 



CHAPTER V. 



TO THE KESCUE. 



The next morning proved a hard one for 
Peggy ; the rhetoric lesson was the first that 
must be recited. She had studied it hard, 
but somehow the rules seemed to make little 
impression. Whenever she tried to fix them 
in her mind, there came between her and the 
page two melancholy blue eyes, and she 
seemed to hear a voice of singular quality, 
a voice with a thrill in it, saying, "Could'st 
love a Goat, Innocent ? " 

So she was not as well prepared as she 
should have been when she went into the 
class; and on meeting Miss Pugsley's cold 
greenish brown eye, what she did know 
seemed to evaporate from the top of her 
head, leaving a total blank. She stumbled 
and floundered ; she did not know what an 



89 



90 PEGGY. 

antecedent was, and she could not remember 
ever to have heard of a reciprocal pronoun. 

" Pray, Miss Montfort, were you asleep or 
awake when you studied this lesson?" in- 
quired Miss Pugsley, with acrid calm. 

" I don't know ! " replied Peggy, now thor- 
oughly bewildered. 

"Well, if you were asleep, let me recom- 
mend you to try it again when you wake up ; 
or if you were awake, perhaps you might do 
it better in your sleep." 

Peggy flushed scarlet, and the ready tears 
sprang into her eyes ; but she forced them 
back, bit her lip, and tried not to feel the 
eyes of the whole class bent on her in amused 
astonishment. Miss Pugsley seemed to take 
positive pleasure in her ignorance and embar- 
rassment. She put one question after another, 
each more ingeniously contrived than the 
last — or so it seemed — to show what Peggy 
did not know. At last, in self-defence, the 
poor child took refuge in one simple and inva- 
riable answer: "I don't know!" So con- 
fused was she that these w^ds were the only 
ones she could utter, even when she knew 



TO THE KESCUE. 91 

the correct answer, or would have done so if 
she could have collected her wits. By the 
end of the hour, Peggy was entirely con- 
vinced that she was the dunce and butt of 
the school ; that she knew nothing, and never 
would know anything. 

It seemed a cruel stroke of fate that this 
terrible period should be followed by that of 
general history, for Peggy detested history, 
as some of my readers already know. She 
went into the next class-room with an aching 
head, and a heart throbbing with a sense of 
utter worthlessness in herself, and of bitter 
cruelty in others. She did not even look up at 
the teacher, but kept her eyes fixed on her 
desk, and answered the few questions that 
meant anything to her, sullenly and unwill- 
ingly. She did try at first to follow the 
lesson, but her head ached so, the words 
seemed to sing themselves into mere non- 
sense, and she soon gave up the attempt ; the 
more so as this teacher, who had been ob- 
serving her pretty closely, for some reason or 
other asked her very few questions. At last, 
however, the blow fell. 



92 PEGGY. 

" Where did Philip of Macedon come from, 
Miss Montf ort ? " 

" I don't know," sp^id Peggy. 

" Oh, I think you do/' said Miss Cortlandt, 
with a pleasant smile, and checking, with a 
warning glance, the rising giggle. 

"Try again. Miss Montfort. Philip the 
Great, Philip of Macedon, — where did he 
come from ? Surely you can tell me ! " 

"I don't know," said Peggy, doggedly; 
and at the moment she actually did not. 

" My dear child," said the teacher, " did you 
ever hear what was the colour of Washington's 
gray mare ? " 

" No, ma'am," said Peggy* 

" Well, what was it ? " 

"I don't know." 

Emily Cortlandt had graduated from college 
the year before. She laid down her pencil, 
and looked very kindly at the distracted 
girl. 

"I think you are not feeling well, Miss 
Montfort," she said. " Does your head ache ? " 

" Yes, ma'am," said Peggy. She could not 
have said another word ; her whole strength 



TO THE RESCUE. 93 

was needed to keep back the flood of tears 
that was rising, rising. 

"You need not stay through the lesson/' 
Miss Cortlandt went on, and the sympathy in 
her voice only brought the flood higher and 
nearer. 

" You can make up the lesson to me some 
other time. Now, you would better go and lie 
down for a little, and then take a turn in the 
fresh air. Miss Bangs, what was the date of 
Philip's first invasion ? " 

Peggy never knew how she got out of the 
class-room. She longed to give at least a 
grateful look at the kind soul who had saved 
her, but her eyes were already swimming in 
tears. She fled along the corridor, sobbing 
hysterically, blinded with tears^ conscious of 
only one thing, the desperate resolve to get 
to her room, before she broke down altogether. 
Flying thus around a corner, she rushed head- 
long into a group of girls who were gathered 
around something, she could not tell what. 
So violent was the shock that Peggy reeled 
and struck her head sharply against the wall. 
This brought her to herself. She caught back 



94 PEGGY. 

the sob on her lips, and dashed the tears 
from her eyes before any one saw them, — 
or so she hoped ; then she looked to see what 
was going on. Next moment she had for- 
gotten that there were such things as tears 
in the world. 

There were six or eight girls in the group, 
mostly sophomores, though a few were fresh- 
men. They were looking down at something 
— somebody — crouching on the floor against 
the wall, and their laughter, checked for an 
instant by Peggy's onset, broke out afresh. 
" Here's Peggy Montfort, just in time to see 
the fun. Look, Miss Montfort, and see the 
fashions ! Straight from Paris, and the very 
last thing ! " 

The speaker was Blanche Haight, a tall 
sophomore with bleached hair, and eyes set 
too near together. She was considered a wit, 
and every time she spoke the other girls 
giggled and screamed. 

The person crouching on the floor was 
Lobelia Parkins. Her head was pressed 
against the wall, her face hidden in her 
hands ; misery and terror were in every line 



TO THE RESCUE. 95 

of her poor little shrinking figure, but this 
only gave added delight to her tormentors. 

" Look, ladies, at the new sleeve ! " cried 
Miss Haight, lifting the skinny arm, from 
which the blue poplin sleeve hung in an 
awkward fashion. "Did you ever see any- 
thing so exquisite ? Look at the fringe, will 
you, and the pattern ? I'm going to get Miss 
Russell to put her up on exhibition, so the 
whole school can have the benefit; it's a 
shame to keep it to ourselves ! " 

" He ! he ! he ! " went all the girls. " Blanche, 
you are too funny for anything ! " 

"Where did your mother get it?" asked 
another ; and this, as Peggy saw with a shock, 
was pretty Rose Barclay. " Did the ragman 
bring it around, or did she pick it up in the 
gutter ? Say, Miss Parkins, I wish you'd tell 
us, 'cause we all want to know." 

" Yes, of course we want to know ! " cried 
Miss Haight. " I'm going to write this very 
night, to see if Mumma can't get me one like 
it. I never shall be happy till I — " 

That sentence never was finished. The 
speaker found her own arm seized in a grip 



96 PEGGY. 

of iron, which forced her to drop the poor 
little arm in the blue sleeve. She was forced 
back against the wall, and found herself 
confronted by a pair of blue eyes blazing with 
righteous wrath. 

"How dare you?" cried Peggy Montfort, 
in a voice that quivered with rage. " You 
mean, cowardly brute, how dare you ? Touch 
her again, and I'll choke the words down your 
throat ! " 

Blanche Haight gasped for a moment ; in- 
deed, the whole group was cowed by this 
sudden vision of strength and fury. But she 
recovered herself in a moment. 

" Well, indeed ! " she said. " I should like 
to know what this means. Miss Montfort ? I 
should like to know who gave you authority 
to choke people, and abuse them, and call 
them names ? " 

" You'll find out what it means ! " said 
Peggy, waiving the second question, and re- 
plying to the first. " If you touch that child 
again, or so much as speak to her, I'll choke 
you." 

" Girls, do you hear this ? " cried Blanche 



TO THE RESCUE. 97 

Haight. ^'^Are you going to stand by, and 
let this girl ride over us?" 

" Shame ! " cried the giris. " Bully ! '' 

" Bully ! " cried Peggy, dropping her hold 
of Miss Haight, and turning to face the others. 
" You call me a bully, and you yourselves, 
eight great grown girls, standing around to 
torment and torture this poor helpless child ? 
Shame on you ! Shame on you all, every one ! 
I'm ashamed to be in the same school with 
you. I — " (Here, I am sorry to say, Peggy 
forgot that she was a young lady, forgot 
everything save that she was the daughter of 
hot-blooded James Montfort.) " I could whip 
the whole lot of you, and I'll do it if you 
dare to say ' Boo ! ' but you don't ! " 

It was a fact that no one did say " Boo ! " 
There was a pause, Peggy standing with folded 
arms before the shrinking child, her whole 
figure dilated with passion, till she seemed 
to tower above the rest, who for their part 
cowered before her. 

Rose Barclay was the first to speak. 

"We are very fortunate to find a leader 
for the freshman class," she said, spitefully. 



98 PEGGY. 

" and such a leader ! Miss Montf ort is too 
high-toned to help a classmate with her lesson, 
but not too high-toned to talk like a Bowery 
rowdy. Come, along, girls ! I for one don't 
care to listen to any more such refined, elegant 
talk ! " 

^' Yes, you'd better go along ! " said Peggy, 
the Valkyr, briefly. 

"Pray, may I ask," said Blanche Haight, 
with a bitter sneer, " are you monitor of this 
corridor?" 

"No," said a voice behind her; "but I am." 

A girl had come quietly up the stairs, and 
was now standing close beside the excited 
group, none of whom had seen or heard her, 
— a tall girl, with red-gold hair, dressed as if 
she had just come from a journey. 

"I am the monitor of this corridor," she 
repeated. "Please go to your rooms, or I 
shall be obliged to report you." 

The girls shrunk together, whispering, the 
freshmen questioning the sophomores. 

"Who is it? Who is it?" 

" Hush ! It's the junior president. Come 
along ! " 



TO THE KESCUE. 99 

The group melted away ; another moment, 
and all were gone save Peggy, who was now 
on the floor, with her arms around the little 
miserable creature, who still shrank close 
against the wall, as if her life depended 
on the contact. 

" There, dear ! " she cried. " They are 
gone. Come ! Don't huddle up so, you poor 
little thing. Those brutes are gone, and 
there's nobody here but me, Peggy, and — " 
she glanced up at the tall girl. " Oh ! won't 
you help me?" she cried. "I think — she 
doesn't seem to hear what I am saying. Oh, 
is she dead?" 

" No," said the monitor. " I think she has 
fainted, though, poor little soul ! We must 
carry her to her room. Do you know where 
it is ? I have only just come back, and don't 
know where the freshmen are." 

" No, I don't know, but I'll take her to my 
room; I'm in No. 18. Oh, I can carry her 
alone ; she's all skin and bone ; she doesn't 
weigh anything." 

The little figure in the staring poplin gown 
hung quite limp, as Peggy lifted it. " You'd 



100 PEGGY. 

better let me help," said the tall girl, kindly. 
" We can make her more comfortable ; so ! " 

Together they carried her to Peggy's room, 
and laid her on the bed. It was really more 
fright and distress than actual fainting, for 
she soon opened her eyes, and looked eagerly 
at Peggy, but closed them again with a faint 
cry, at sight of the stranger. 

" You needn't be - afraid of her ! " cried 
Peggy, eagerly. " She isn't one of them ; 
she's none of that horrid crowd. "I don't 
know who you are," she said, " but I'm ever 
and ever and ever so much obliged to you. I 
don't know whether you heard what they 
were saying." 

And she poured out an indignant account 
of the cruelty she had witnessed and put 
a stop to. The stranger's eyes were stern 
enough, as she listened. " I heard only the 
end of it," she said, briefly, " but where I see 
Blanche Haight, I am never surprised at any- 
thing cruel or cowardly. I am very glad to 
know you ; it was a mercy that you happened 
to come along just then. I hope we shall be 
friends, Miss — is it Miss Montfort ? " 



TO THE RESCUE. 101 

" Oh, that I will ! " cried Peggy, respond- 
ing with all her warm heart to the sweet 
smile and the lovely look in the clear blue 
eyes. " Oh, I should like to ever so much ; 
but I don't know your name, do I ? " 

The stranger smiled again. "They call 
me the Snowy Owl," she said, " but my name 
is Gertrude Merryweather." 



CHAPTER VI. 



THE owl's nest. 



When Peggy escorted Lobelia Parkins back 
to her room, she found that it was the one 
directly above her own. Point for point, the 
rooms were alike, fire-escape and all, — so far 
as the actual outlines were concerned ; there, 
however, the likeness ended. There had been 
no Uncle John, no Margaret, in this case. 
The room was furnished, evidently, by the 
same hand that had dressed the girl, and with 
equal taste. The carpet on the floor was 
costly, but hideous as staring colours and 
execrable design could make it. The furni- 
ture was cumbrous, and the fact that the 
ugly chairs were rosewood, and their cushions 
brocade, made them neither beautiful nor 
comfortable. On the bureau were some bottles 
of red Bohemian glass, such as were thought 

102 



THE owl's nest. 103 

handsome fifty years ago ; an elephant of a 
writing-desk, staring with plush and gilding, 
almost covered the table. Altogether, the 
room was as desolate as its occupant; more 
could not be said. Lobelia seemed smaller 
and more shrunken than ever amid all this 
tasteless display ; she seemed conscious of it, 
too, as she gazed piteously at Peggy. She 
had been crying, in a furtive, frightened way ; 
and, gazing at her, Peggy felt that it must be 
years ago that she was crying, too, and hoping 
for nothing in the world save to get to her 
room and have a good solid deluge of tears. 
At present it seemed hardly likely that she 
should ever weep again ; she felt strong and 
confident, and was still burning with indigna- 
tion, none the less hotly that the outward 
flame had gone down. Her kind companion 
had been obliged to leave them, with the 
promise of seeing them soon again. Peggy 
thought she might stay a few minutes, though 
the gong for gym had already rung. 

" Now, Lobelia," she was saying, — " I am 
going to call you Lobelia, you know, and you 
are to call me Peggy, and we are going to be 



104 PEGGY. 

friends. Now, Lobelia, mind what I say ! if 
those girls ever give you any more trouble, 
you are to come straight to me. Do you 
hear ? " 

" Yes," said Lobelia, faintly. 

" Have they tormented you before ? Beasts ! 
Or was this the first time ? " 

"Oh, not — not so much!" said the girl, 
deprecatingly. "A little yesterday; but — 
I don't know whether they meant to be 
unkind, Peggy. I know that my dress is 
queer ! " 

" Don't be so meek ! " cried Peggy, unable 
to repress a little stamp of her foot, which 
made Lobelia start. " Have some spirit of 
your own. Lobelia. I tell you, these girls 
are mean, cowardly wretches, not fit for girls 
like the Owls to speak to. They don't speak 
to them much, either," she added, " and I'm 
not going to any more than I can help." 

Lobelia looked more miserable than ever. 
" Don't ! " she said. " I can't bear to have 
any one get into trouble on my account. It 
— it needn't matter to you, Peggy. Of course 
you are very, very kind, and I think I should 



THE owl's nest. 105 

have died if you had not come along just 
then, for I couldn't seem to bear much more ; 
but I don't want you to get into trouble." 

"Who's going to get into trouble?" de- 
manded Peggy. "Guess I can take care of 
myself against such a set as that." 

" I don't want you to get into trouble ! " 
repeated Lobelia; and, as she spoke, she 
glanced around the room with a peculiar 
shrinking look, one would say a look of dread, 
that Peggy did not understand. 

" Who's next door to you ? " she asked, 
briefly. " Rose Barclay, for one, I know. Who 
is on the other side ? " 

Lobelia thought it was another freshman, 
but was not sure. 

" Have they troubled you ? " asked Peggy, 
suspiciously. 

But Lobelia shook her head, and seemed so 
distressed at the question that Peggy did not 
know what to think. 

" Please, please don't bother about me ! " 
she implored. " I dare say it will be a good 
deal better now, after you and Miss Merry- 
weather being so brave and so kind. I don't 



106 PEGGY. 

want to say anything against anybody. Please, 
please forget all about it, Peggy." 

"I want you to be brave yourself/' cried 
Peggy ; and Lobelia started again, and shrank 
in her chair. "Don't be so — so — well, I 
don't know any word but meeching, and 
Margaret won't let me say that. But have 
a spirit of your own, and stand up to them, 
and give 'em as good as they send. I would, 
I tell you, quick enough, if they tried it on 
me. 

Lobelia looked at her with hopeless eyes. 
" But I am not you ! " she said. " I — Peggy, 
I know just how I look, and how I seem, and 
how little and ugly and queer I am. I don't 
wonder they laugh, I don't, really. I haven't 
any spirit, either; I can't have. You can't 
do anything with me ; it isn't any use." 

Peggy gazed at her, with eyes almost as 
hopeless as her own. Yet she must make one 
more attempt ; and with it the honest blood 
came into her face. 

^^Look here. Lobelia ! " she said, " I am awk- 
ward, too, and shy, and — and stupid, awfully 
stupid. Why, my cousin Rita used to call me 



THE owl's nest. 107 

— never mind, that was only before she grew 
so kind ! But I know what it is to be laughed 
at, my dear ! Only this morning, in rhetoric, 
Miss Pugsley was just as hateful as she could 
be, and all the girls laughed ; yes, they did. 
So you are not so different as you think. 
Why, — I don't mind telling you, — when I 
came along just now, I was trying to get to 
my own room, so that I could have a good 
cry. There, Lobelia ! now how do you 
feel ? " Lobelia raised her eyes with a won- 
dering look; but next moment her eyes fell 
on the looking-glass and she shook her 
head. 

" No ! " she said. " No, Peggy ! You are 
kind, and you want to make me feel comfort- 
able ; but look ! " 

She motioned toward the mirror. Peggy 
looked, and her kind heart sank. She her- 
self was no beauty ; her round, fair face and 
honest blue eyes were pleasant to look at, 
and she had beautiful hair, but that was all ; 
yet she could not help seeing that she was a 
very vision of loveliness beside the sallow, 
puny, almost deformed aspect of her poor 



108 PEGGY. 

little neighbour. She coloured deep with 
angry sympathy, but Lobelia only smiled, a 
wan little smile. 

"You see!" she said. "It's no use, 
Peggy." 

For all answer, Peggy threw her arms 
around the shrinking figure, and pressed it in 
a warm embrace. " I don't care ! " she cried. 
" I don't say you are pretty, you poor little 
thing, but just remember that you are my 
friend, and if anybody dares to meddle with 
you again, they'll have to reckon with 
me, that's all. And now I must go, or I 
shall lose all the drill. Cheer up. Lobelia, 
and don't sit here and mope, mind! and if 
you have any more trouble, just knock on 
the floor, and I'll be up in half a quarter of 
a jiffy. Good-bye, dear ! " and off she ran, 
feeling that at least she had left some degree 
of comfort and cheer behind her. 

Soon, however, came something that put 
Lobelia Parkins and her troubles out of Peg- 
gy's head for the time. Bertha Haughton 
was not at the gymnasium, but when Peggy 
came back to her own room after an hour of 



THE owl's nest. 109 

rapture, she found a note pinned on her 
pincushion. 

"Dear Peggy: — Study hard^ please, and get 
through before this evening. The Snowy Owl is 
going to give us a Grand Tell about the wedding 
she has been to, and we both want you to come, too. 
I'm going to speak to Miss Russell, but you'd better 
ask her, too ; it will be all right, for the Snowy has 
asked permission, anyhow. Eight o'clock, just after 
reading ; be sure to come on time ! 

" Affectionately, 

" Beetha." 

It was hard to study through that lovely 
afternoon, w^hen the other girls, or most of 
them, were out-of-doors, playing tennis or 
basket-ball, and their voices came in at the 
window in every tone of joyousness and de- 
light. It was very hard to study the detested 
rhetoric and history, but Peggy was strong in 
her good resolve, and bent steadily over her 
books, trying her very best. Once, indeed, 
came a sore temptation, when a ball struck 
her window lightly, and, going to look out, 
she saw Grace Wolfe standing below. 

Come out, Innocent ! " said the Scapegoat, 



u 



110 PEGGY. 

in her deep, musical tones. '' Come and sport 
with me ! 



" The ship is ready and the wind blows fair, 
And I am bound for the sea, Mary Anne ! 



)> 



" Oh ! Oh, thank you ! " cried Peggy. " I 
wish I could, but I have to work now, I'm 
afraid." 

" Is this a time to think o' wark, 
Wi' Scapegoat at the door ? " 

inquired Grace, looking up with her head on 
one side. " Why work at this hour, Innocent? 
Even the slaves of virtue, even the Owls, are 
at play now." 

Peggy leaned out of the window ; it really 
seemed as if her body would be drawn out 
after her longing spirit, which had been 
out and away from the first summons. 

" Yes, the Owls ! " she said. " That's just 
it, Miss Wolfe." 

" No ! " interrupted Grace. " Not Miss 
Wolfe ! Not all ^sop ! Impossible to be 
wolf and goat at the same time, and do jus- 



THE owl's nest. Ill 

tice to either character. Let it be Goat, or 
Grace, as you like." 

" Grace, then, thank you ! Well, you see, 
the Owls, — that is. Bertha asked me to come 
to their room this evening, and of course I 
want to dreadfully, — though not more dread- 
fully than I want to come out now," she 
added, wistfully. " And if I do, you see, I must 
get my rhetoric done. It's awfully hard, and 
I am so stupid about it, it takes me for ever. 
Oh, will you ask me again some time, 
please ? " 

The Scapegoat regarded her for a moment, 
standing with the ball in her hand, swaying 
her light, graceful body to and fro. 

" Another slave of virtue ? " she said. " Can 
I permit this ? Innocent, I have half a mind 
to cause you to come down. I am to be 
thrown over for owls, who have, if you will 
consider the matter, neither horns nor hoofs ? 
I am to let you stay and grind through 
the afternoon for them and for my Puggy? 
Well — " 

Her whole face seemed to lighten with 
whimsical determination. She laid her hand 



112 PEGGY. 

on the fire-escape, and seemed on the point of 
mounting it, when suddenly another change 
came over her. Her eyes darkened into their 
usual melancholy look. 

" Here's luck ! " she said, abruptly. " See 
you later. Innocent ! " She was gone, and 
Peggy, with a revulsion of feeling, wished 
she had gone with her. Bertha was a dear, 
and Miss Merryweather looked lovely, but 
neither of them had the fascination of this 
strange girl, so unlike any one she had ever 
seen in her life. 

It was a forlorn afternoon; but Peggy 
stuck to her work manfully, and had the 
satisfaction of closing the book at last with 
the feeling that she was sure of it now, how- 
ever things might be in the morning under 
Miss Pugsley's hostile eye. 

There was still a little time left before 
supper. She ran out to the lawn, hoping to 
find Grace Wolfe still there, but she was 
disappointed. The only occupants of the 
lawn were half a dozen sophomores clustered 
together at one end. Blanche Haight was 
among them, and at sight of Peggy she turned 



THE owl's nest. 113 

her back pointedly, and whispered to the 
others. They turned with one accord and 
stared at Peggy, with a cool insolence that 
made her blood boil within her and surge up 
in angry red to her forehead. She could not 
do anything about it; they had a right to 
stare, if they had no better manners. She 
returned the look for a moment, then turned 
away with a sore and angry heart. Fortu- 
nately, at this moment came out two class- 
mates of her own whom she knew slightly, — 
mild, pleasant girls, with no special traits of 
interest, but still friendly and approachable. 
They were going to play tennis, and invited 
Peggy to join them ; so she had a good half- 
hour of exercise and pleasure, and came in 
with rosy cheeks, and with the cobwebs all 
blown away for the time. 

At eight o'clock Peggy was standing before 
her glass, putting a last touch to her hair, 
and surveying her image with some anxiety. 
Did she "look nice?" Peggy had as little 
personal vanity as a girl could well have ; but 
she had learned from her cousin Margaret 
that it was part of her duty to look as well 



114 PEGGY. 

as she could. Her cousin Rita would have 
had her go further than this. 

" Study, my child," Rita would cry, " to 
be beautiful ! Let it be your dream by night, 
your thought by day ! " And, in all kindness, 
Rita would try to teach her how to cross her 
feet so that they might look slender, how to 
extend her little finger when she raised her 
hand, " not too much, but to an exact point, 
cherie!'' how to turn her head so as to 
show the lines of the neck to advantage. But 
Peggy's own good sense, aided by Margaret's 
calm wisdom, had told her the inappropriate- 
ness of Rita's graceful airs and poses to her 
own sturdy personality. She was to look 
nice ; more she could not aspire to. So here 
she was to-night, in a pretty blue silk waist, 
with a serge skirt of a darker shade, her hair 
smoothly braided in one mammoth " pigtail," 
and tied with blue ribbons, her neat collar 
fastened with a pretty pearl brooch. Thus 
attired, our Peggy was truly pleasant to look 
upon; and her "Is that right, Margaret?" 
brought a little satisfied nod of reply from 
the smiling image in the glass. 



THE owl's nest. 115 

Drawing near the Owl's Nest, she heard a 
hum of voices, and straightway her heart 
sank again, and shyness possessed her. There 
was a crowd there ! They would all be 
juniors and seniors, and she the only freshman 
among them. How could she go in? Oh! 
she almost wished she was up in the other 
corridor with the younger girls ! 

But at this moment the door opened, and 
Bertha's kind face looked out. 

" Here you are, Peggy ! " she cried, cor- 
dially. " Come along ; there's plenty of room, 
for I've saved a place for you. Come ! " 

For a moment Peggy hung back, and knew 
how Lobelia Parkins felt ; then she made an 
effort, and followed Bertha into the room. 

The Owl's Nest was a corner room, with 
windows on two sides. It seemed to be fur- 
nished chiefly with books. There were the 
two brass beds, of course, the twin bureaus, 
the desks, and table. All of these, except 
the beds, were covered with books; book- 
shelves took up most of the wall space, though 
there were two or three good pictures, among 
them a great photograph of the sea, that 



116 PEGGY. 

almost dashed the spray in one's face, so per- 
fect was it. It was at a later visit that Peggy 
observed the books ; now, she was conscious 
of nothing save the girls. The room was 
certainly full of them. There were three on 
each bed, curled up in every variety of pic- 
turesque and comfortable attitude; two sat 
on one of the bureaus, having pushed books 
and toilet articles up into a toppling and 
highly perilous mountain behind them; four 
more crouched somehow on the rather narrow 
window-seats. The rest were on the floor, 
except two early birds, who had come in time 
to get the two chairs. The floor was made 
comfortable with sofa-pillows, borrowed from 
the whole length of the corridor. Altogether, 
there might have been twenty girls in the 
room, and every girl was, or seemed to be, 
talking as fast as her tongue could move. 

Peggy was hailed with a bird-like call from 
one corner. 

" My Veezy-vee ! come here, Peggy Mont- 
fort, and sit by me." 

It was Viola Vincent. She was curled up 
at the head of one of the beds. She wore the 



THE owl's nest. 117 

prettiest pink tea-gown imaginable, and her 
hair was a wonder of puffs and curls. 

" Come here ! " she repeated, patting the 
pillows. " Lots of room ; miles ! Let her 
come here, Fluffy ! " 

"Yes, she shall, in a minute, V." replied 
Bertha. "But first, — Toots, here's Peggy 
Montfort ! " 

The Snowy Owl came swiftly out of the 
closet, where she had been performing some 
mystic rite ; she took Peggy's two hands in 
hers, and held them in a warm, firm grasp 
that was the very soul of cordiality. 

" I'm so glad ! " she said. " How's the poor 
little thing ? Better ? I'm sure you did her 
a great deal of good." 

" Oh, no ! " stammered Peggy, pleased and 
confused. "I couldn't really do anything; 
but she is feeling better." 

Gertrude Merryweather nodded wisely. 
" My dear, you can do a great deal for her ! " 
she said. "We'll have a talk sometime; no 
chance now. Only, Bertha has been telling 
me things, and I'm so glad you are in our 
street ! There, now V, shall have you." 



118 PEGGY. 

Judge of the glow at Peggy's heart, on 
these words from the Junior President, the 
best-loved girl — or so it was said — in the 
whole school. Those . foolish tears actually 
got half-way up to her eyes, — only they were 
very different from the last tears ; but fortu- 
nately Viola's high-pitched babble drove them 
back again. 

" My dear ! How nice you look ! perf 'ly 
fine ! doesn't she, V. ? Say, that's a dandy 
pin you've got on, simply dandy ! There ! 
isn't this too quaint for anything? You 
comfy ? so'm I ! Room, my dear ? gallons of 
room ! I haven't seen you for an age ; where 
have you kept yourself ? I looked into your 
room, though, and it's perf'ly fine ! I told 
you it would be, when you had things fixed. 
Your chintz is too perfectly sweet for any- 
thing ; isn't it, V. ? We were simply cold 
with envy, weren't we, V. ? " 

" Do cackle for yourself, if you must cackle, 
V. ! " responded Vivia Varnham, who sat on 
the same bed, a little lower down. " I can't 
hear myself think, you make such a noise." 

"No, really?" cried Viola. "But that 



THE owl's nest. 119 

must be such an advantage sometimes, V. 
But, say! we came here to hear the Snowy 
talk, didn't we ? She hasn't had much chance 
yet, has she ? Are you ready to talk. Snowy ? 
Oh, you duck ! it is too perfectly enchanting 
to have you back again. I haven't lived since 
you went away, have I, V. ? I've been simply 
a vegetable, haven't I, V. ? Potatoes, my 
dear, are lively compared to me. Are you 
ready to talk. Snowy ? " 

" If you are ready to have me," replied the 
Snowy Owl, laughing. "First, however — 
here ! " 

She produced a mammoth box of " marsh- 
mallows," and handed it around. It was 
received with a shout. 

"Toast 'em!" cried one. "Hat-pins!" 
cried another. There was a movement toward 
the gas-jet ; but Bertha Haughton checked it 
decidedly. " You have come here to hear the 
Snowy tell ! " she said. " It's a long tell, and 
if you begin toasting now, there won't be 
time. Tell first, toast afterward ! that's what 
I say!" 

" Hark to the Fluffy ! she speaks well ! " 



120 PEGGY. 

cried the girls. There was silence; and 
Gertrude Merryweather, sitting on the floor, 
with her hands clasped around her knees, 
began her "tell." 



CHAPTER VII. 



WEDDING BELLS. 



^' To begin with, girls, this is Fluffy's idea, 

not mine ! Of course none of you ever saw 

our Hildegarde, so I didn't suppose you would 

I care particularly ; but when I was telling the 

Fluffy last night, she said it was selfish and 
all kinds of things to keep it to ourselves, 
and that you must all hear about it ; so if you 
don't find it interesting, pull out the Fluffy's 
feathers, not mine. 

" Hildegarde Grahame — she is Hildegarde 
Merryweather now, but I cannot realise it yet 
— has been a very dear friend of ours for 
several years. We think there is no one like 
her in the world ; I'll show you a picture of 
her by and by. Well, a year ago she became 
engaged to my uncle." 

" Your uncle ! " cried the girls. " Why, I 
thought she was a girl ! " 



121 



122 PEGGY. 

" So she is a girl, but Roger — well, he is 
my uncle, but he isn't so very much older 
than I am. That is — he is twenty-five, and 
Hildegarde is twenty ; so you see it is just 
exactly right. There isn't anybody like him, 
either. He is as near an angel as a man can 
come and be alive ; and he is tremendously 
clever, really eminent already in his profes- 
sion, and we all love him to distraction." 

"Is he handsome?" asked Viola Vincent. 

" I don't know ; yes, I think he is. Not a 
barber-shop beauty, though. He is tall, and 
very strong, broad-shouldered, with the kind- 
est eyes in the world, and a smile that makes 
you crinkle all over with pleasure. Well, 
and so they were engaged, and now they are 
married ; the wedding was on Wednesday, 
and this is Friday, and here I am. Now I'll 
begin at the very beginning -of the day. Of 
course we woke up early, and looked out of 
the window ; and it was all gray and cloudy. 
I thought it was going to rain, and I was in 
the depths, but Bell — you know Bell, my 
sister, at college — was sure it would clear 
before seven, and so it did. The sun came 



WEDDING BELLS. 123 

out bright and clear, and soon we saw that it 
was going to be the most beautiful day that 
ever was. We had been out in the fields all 
day before, getting flowers, and we had them 
all ready in tubs and bowls and pitchers ; so 
after breakfast we could go right to work on 
the decorations. We did the church first. 
It is a pretty stone church, with a good 
deep chancel. We filled in the back of the 
chancel with great ferns — mostly evergreen 
ferns, so that they would not wilt — and 
palms and things ; and then we made banks 
and banks of asters and goldenrod, — oh, it 
was lovely ! Most of them came from the 
camp-pasture. Bertha; you remember how 
lovely it is in September." 

Bertha nodded. " I should think I did ! '' 
she said. " Most beautiful place I ever saw, 
except the rest of it all." 

" Well, I never saw it look more beautiful 
than that day before the wedding, when Bell 
and the boys and I rode out on our wheels, 
and came back by moonlight, with great 
bundles of purple and gold tied on our backs 
and nodding over our heads. But all the 





« 



124 PEGGY. 

ferns and the asters and chrysanthemums 
and roses came mostly from Hildegarde's own 
garden at Braeside, and from Roseholme, Colo- 
nel Ferrers' s place. We might have carpeted 
the church entirely with asters, if we had 
wanted to ; as it was, we had great garlands 
of them twined over the chancel rail and 
swinging among the ferns and goldenrod; 
really, I never saw so many flowers at one 
time in my life. When that was all done we 
went to the house, Braeside, the Grahames' 
house, to see if we could help there ; but Mrs. 
Flower, a friend of Hildegarde's, of whom we 
used to be the least little bit jealous before 
we knew her, was there, and another friend. 
Miss Desmond, — she was one of the brides- 
maids, — and they had everything so beauti- 
fully arranged that there was nothing for us 
to do but stand and admire it with all our 
eyes. People in New York had sent down all 
kinds of splendid flowers, boxes and boxes of 
them, so that the house was a perfect bower, 
and smelt like the Vale of Cashmere ; but we 
knew very well that Hilda would like our 
flowers best. Then — well, a lot more pres- 



WEDDING BELLS. 125 

ents had come since the night before, so as 
there was time enough before dressing, we 
went in to see them. I don't suppose you 
care about the presents, girls ! " 

^•Oh! oh! we do ! " cried the girls, in chorus. 
"We want to hear about every single one. 
Snowy." 

" My dears ! it would take me all night, 
and then I couldn't remember them all. But 
I'll try and tell you some of them. Let me 
see! Colonel Ferrers gave her a set of sap- 
phires ; the most beautiful things you ever 
saw. Necklace and pendant and pin, most 
wonderful dark blue stones, set in star-shape. 
And Jack Ferrers and his father gave her 
some wonderful Roman gold- work — I don't 
know how to describe it, I never saw anything 
like it — that Jack picked up in Europe. 
Then there was silver, heaps and heaps of it, 
from relatives in New York and I don't know 
where ; some of it very handsome indeed, but 
I don't care so much about silver, do you? 
I remember there were ten salt-cellars, no two 
alike. But the things we cared for were the 
small presents that came from people we knew ; 



126 PEGGY. 

people who loved Hildegarde, not just be- 
cause she was their grandniece or something, 
but because she was herself. Oli, some of 
them were funny, girls ! There were two 
dear old people who had come a long way to 
the wedding, a Mr. and Mrs. Hartley, with 
whom Hilda spent a summer when she was 
about fifteen, and whom she has been fond of 
ever since. I should think she would be ; the 
old lady has a face like Raphael's grand- 
mother — I can't think of any other way of 
describing it; and Mr. Hartley is simply a 
duck, the dearest funny old man you ever 
saw. Well, they brought Hilda the most 
beautiful toilet-set I ever saw or dreamed 
of, — something wonderful, all blue dragons 
and gilding. Papa said it was very rare ; 
and Hilda cried when she saw it, and scolded 
them dreadfully for bringing it away from its 
own room ; but still she was delighted to have 
it, and says she will never use any other. 
Then there was young Doctor Chirk, — funny 
name, isn't it? — Mrs. Flower's brother. Such 
a nice, bright, jolly fellow ! Well, he was part 
of that same summer, it seems, and he carved 



WEDDING BELLS. 127 

a beautiful frame out of wood that grew in 
Hartley's Glen ; and Mrs. Flower, who paints 
very well, had made a picture of the glen 
itself — lovely place ! — for the frame, or I 
suppose the frame was made to fit the pic- 
ture, no matter which; and that filled her 
with joy. 

" Then there were the people from Bywood. 
My dear. Miss Wealthy Bond is the most 
beautiful creature I have ever seen, except 
two. She is just like live Dresden china, 
smiling and dimpling; and the dear quaint 
maid who came with her, Martha, had made 
Hildegarde's whole winter provision of jellies 
and jams, because ^it wasn't likely Hilde- 
garde would have time herself this first sea- 
son, and it wasn't a thing you could trust to 
hired help in general.' Miss Bond herself 
had brought china — my dear ! did you ever 
see tortoise-shell crockery ? Well, it is a most 
beautiful thing, and the art was lost a hun- 
dred years ago, and each piece is worth I don't 
know how much ; but this dear old lady had 
a dozen plates, all hexagonal, too, and not a 
single point broken or chipped, and two pitch- 



128 PEGGY. 

ers, — well, I haven't the heart even to think 
of those pitchers, I wanted them so, — and 
they were all for Hilda, because Hilda had 
brought the sunshine back into her life, she 
told me. 

" Girls, it was the same story everywhere. 
Mrs. Grahame being so delicate, and Hilda so 
busy. Bell and I were there a great deal the 
few days before the wedding, and we took the 
guests to walk and drive and so on. Every- 
where it was the same story, the joy and 
brightness and love that this one girl had 
carried with her wherever ^he went. I never 
shall forget it — never. 

" Then — let me see — what next ? Oh ! I 
had nearly forgotten the dear little boy, Benny, 
Miss Bond's adopted son. He considers Hilda 
his own private property, and he was furiously 
jealous of Roger and everybody else. When 
he first came it was quite sad, really, the child 
was so unhappy, and there was no consoling 
him. He wanted Hilda to sing to him and 
play with him just as she did when she was 
staying there at Bywood ; and naturally she 
couldn't, poor dear, though it was wonderful 



WEDDING BELLS. 129 

how she managed to be with them all a little 
every day, and to see to almost everything, so 
that her mother should have no care or worry. 
Well, where was I ? oh ! the little boys. 
Hugh Allen, our Hugh, — I can't stop to 
tell you about Hugh now, but he is the dear- 
est, queerest little fellow, — Hugh watched 
all this for awhile, and then he took Benny 
away with him, down into the garden, and 
they were gone a long time. And when they 
came back Benny marched straight up to 
Roger, and said, ' You are nice ! you can have 
my girl,' and then marched off again, and 
went and cried, poor lamb, till Hugh com- 
forted him. 

" But I am not getting on with the presents, 
am I ? We all gave her linen, because she 
had to have that, and we wanted to do some- 
thing ourselves ; so we, my mother and Bell 
and Kitty and I, hemmed every one of the 
table-cloths and napkins, and embroidered the 
marks on all the towels, and had a beautiful 
time over it. Mammy read to us part of the 
time while we sewed, all the interesting wed- 
dings that she could find in history or fiction. 



130 PEGGY. 

and that was great fun ; then she wrote some 
funny verses to go with them, and they really 
were lovely patterns, so it was a nice present, 
though strictly necessary, you see. Oh, I 
haven't told you about the diamonds ! Helena 
Desmond was so funny about them ! ' Hilda,' 
she said, ' it was clear from the beginning that 
I must be offered up on the altar of diamonds. 
I detest diamonds. They are absolutely un- 
interesting ; they are almost vulgar. Never 
mind, you have to have some, and nobody 
else will be stupid and commonplace enough 
to give them to you. I had hopes of your 
Aunt Emily, but she has expended herself in 
lace, and was so happy over it that I hadn't 
the heart to whisper " diamonds ! " in her ear, 
as I had meant to do. Here they are, my 
child ; the customary horrors ! ' 

" Well, they were very beautiful, though I 
confess I should have liked pearls better for 
Hilda. A diamond crescent and star, really 
splendid. She is very rich, you know." 

" Is that the great beauty ? " asked a girl. 

" Yes, she is superb, certainly. Next to 
Hilda, perhaps — but I'll come to that pres- 



WEDDING BELLS. 131 

ently. Well, now perhaps I have told you 
half the things, or rather more than half ; but 
they are the things I cared most about, you 
see. I can't go into a list of forks and spoons. 
So now I come to the wedding itself." 

The girls drew a long breath and leaned 
forward ; presents were very well, but wed- 
dings were better. 

"It was at noon, of course. There were 
only two bridesmaids, Helena Desmond and 
I. Hilda said she wanted only her nearest 
and dearest, so she would not ask her cousins, 
though I fancy they had hoped to be asked. 
She wanted Bell, but Bell said it was posi- 
tively necessary that she should play the organ, 
and so it was. We wore perfectly plain white 
muslin gowns, but, oh, they were so pretty ! 
with soft pale green sashes, and little wreaths 
of ivy in our hair. Hildegarde wanted every- 
thing as simple as possible, so we didn't go 
into hats, or any of that kind of nonsense. 
Jerry — my brother Gerald — was best man, 
and the ushers were Phil and Willy, my other 
brothers, and Jack Ferrers and Doctor Chirk 
and Hugh Allen. Well, so the hour came. 



132 PEGGY. 

" Helena and I were ready and waiting at 
Braeside when Hilda came down-stairs. Girls, 
you never saw anything so lovely in your 
lives as she was. Her dress was very simple, 
too, white embroidered muslin, exquisitely 
fine. Colonel Ferrers brought it from India, 
years and years ago, for a lovely young girl 
who died while he was on his way home. It 
had been made in the house, and it looked 
just like her, as her dresses always do. She 
wore a little gold pin that Roger made for her 
himself, — mined the gold and all, — no other 
ornament, and a wreath of white roses, roses 
that the Roseholme gardener had been nurs- 
ing all summer to make them blossom just at 
the right time. That was his present ; every- 
body wanted to do something, you see." 

" What does she look like ? '* asked a girl. 

" Well, you have to see her to know what 
she really looks like, for half of it is the ex- 
pression and the look in her eyes. Gray eyes, 
so clear and true, — you know she couldn't 
say or do anything unkind or false to save 
her life, — and a colour just like a wild rose, 
and a nose, — well, it's just her own nose. 



WEDDING BELLS. 133 

tilted up a little, but perfectly delightful ; and 
when she smiles, you think she has the most 
beautiful mouth in the world, though I don't 
suppose she really has. Here, this gives you 
a little idea of her ; just a very little, for it 
doesn't begin to think of doing her justice." 

The girls clustered eagerly to see the pho- 
tograph, which was passed on from hand to 
hand. It was a lovely face, indeed, at which 
they looked ; yet, as Gertrude said, the actual 
beauty was the least part of its charm. Truth 
and kindness shone from it ; not the lightest 
and most foolish girl there but felt grave for 
a moment, meeting that steady look of cheer 
and constancy. 

" And yet she looks awfully jolly, too ! " 
said one, breaking the silence, and voicing 
the thought of all. 

" My dear, she is more fun — " 

"Than a goat?" asked a new voice; and 
Grace Wolfe slipped in quietly at the window, 
and, nodding to the company, took her seat 
on the floor. 

" I have heard all ! " she said. " Go on, 
Snowy ! I see now where you got your vir- 



134 PEGGY. 

tues ; this young woman has much to answer 
for." 

Gertrude looked at her kindly, but said 
nothing ; in a moment the story went on. 

"We walked over to the church — it is 
only a few steps — just as we were, without 
any formal arrangement. Hilda held her 
mother's hand fast all the time; they were 
both very quiet. The dear old black cook 
walked with them, crying all the way. Hugh 
had Hilda's other hand. I — I can't tell about 
this part." 

Gertrude's voice faltered for a moment; 
then she went on more steadily. 

" Colonel Ferrers was waiting at the church 
door, with his brother, Mr. Raymond Ferrers. 
All the ushers were there, too, and we could 
see that the church was full. And, oh ! just 
a little way from the door was a band of little 
girls, Hilda's sewing-class, and they all had 
baskets of flowers, and scattered them in front 
of her as she walked. I forgot to put that in 
where it belonged, but it was very pretty, and 
if you had seen the way they looked at her ! 

"Well, then it all seemed to happen in 



WEDDING BELLS. 135 

a moment. Mr. Raymond Ferrers took Mrs. 
Grahame up the aisle; and then the organ 
broke out with the wedding march. I have 
heard my sister Bell play pretty well, but 
never as she did then. It seemed to fill the 
whole world, and yet it was not too loud, 
either. Then the ushers went up, and then 
Helena and I, and then came our dear bride 
on Colonel Ferrers' arm. Roger was waiting 
at the altar steps with Gerald. He came 
forward to meet her, and took both her 
hands, — oh, with such a beautiful look in 
his face ! and then drew her arm through his, 
so proud and quiet and happy, and then the 
service went on. They both spoke so clearly, 
everybody could hear them, and the ring was 
ready, and there was not a mistake anjrwhere ; 
only both Jerry and the colonel were on the 
point of breaking down, both of them, and 
every time the colonel blew his nose I could 
see Jerry start and wince. And so they were 
married, and the music broke out again, and 
Roger put back the veil and kissed his wife ; 
and — and then they came back down the 
aisle, and — and — and that is all!" 



136 PEGGY. 

Gertrude had struggled hard for composure. 
She had nearly outgrown the childish prone- 
ness to tears, which in early days had earned 
her the home sobriquet of "Chelsea Water- 
works;" but this recital touched her too 
nearly, and she had overcalculated her power 
of self-restraint. Her voice broke altogether, 
and she could only nod and smile through 
her tears on Bertha, who was regarding her 
remorsefully. 

" I ought not to have made you, Toots ! " 
said Bertha. " I did want them to hear it, 
it has been so beautiful. Don't cry, dear ! " 
But Grace Wolfe came and laid her hand on 
Gertrude's shoulder, and spoke in a tone one 
hardly ever heard in that voice. 

" Don't stop her ! " she said, gravely. "Let 
her cry ! It's good for her — and for all of 
us ! Snowy, your friend is a blessed creature, 
and you are another." 

No one spoke for a few moments. Peggy 
was crying quietly in her corner, and feeling 
that she had been at the wedding herself, and 
wondering what she should possibly do if 
Margaret should ever get married. 



WEDDING BELLS. 137 

But now the Snowy Owl wiped away her 
tears in good earnest, and spoke in her own 
cheerful tones. 

"Come, this will never do. Girls, we 
have extra time to-night. Miss Russell was 
so kind when I told her what I wanted to 
do; but even that time will be up if we 
don't mind. Volunteers to toast marshmal- 
lows ! " 

Instantly there was a rush and a cry. A 
dozen hands were stretched out. Hat-pins 
appeared, as if by magic, brandished on every 
side. In another moment a dozen marshmal- 
lows were frizzling over the gas-jets, while 
the student lamp did duty for several more. 
As soon as one was done, it was popped, hiss- 
ing hot, into an open mouth, and the hat-pin, 
charged with another freight, returned to the 
charge. Cries of mingled joy and anguish 
rose on every side. 

" Oh, I am burnt entirely ! The skin is all 
off my lips." 

" Here, for me one ! " 

^^ No, she has had two already ! Fluffy, my 
turn next ! " 



138 PEGGY. 

It was a merry Babel. The fun rose higher 
and higher. Peggy dried her eyes, and looked 
on wondering. How could they hear each 
other ? They were all talking at once, each 
one faster than the other. 

"My dear! Perfly fine, wasn't it? Oh, 
I do love to hear a tell — " 

" When my cousin was married, she had 
eight bridesmaids, and they wore just mob 
caps, not another thing — " 

" Orange-blossoms are too sweet for any- 
thing, but they make some people — " ' 

"Simply pea-green, my dear, with fright, 
and she had blue woollen socks on over her 
white slippers — ' something blue,' you know, 
— and forgot to take them off — " 

"Her head, and you never saw anything 
like it in your life. It measured three yards 
around, if it did — " 

"A sunburst, you know, diamonds and 
pearls. I adore diamonds, for my part. 
Why, to be married without diamonds would 
be—" 

" Simply fierce ! I should die, I know I 
should, before I got half-way up the aisle. 



WEDDING BELLS. 139 

But to see one, and the music and flowers 
and all, is — " 

" Dandy ! perf 'ly dandy ! I wouldn't miss 
it for all the — " 

^' Flounces, my dear, up to the waist, as 
true as I sit here ! and she said ^ No ! ' She 
said : ' Before I'll be flounced to the waist, 
I'll — '" 

" Marry a tin peddler ! said there was 
nothing in the world she'd like better, be- 
cause then she could — " 

" Sit still the whole morning without mov- 
ing a muscle, for fear of breaking her — " 

^^ Heart, with forty pearls and sixty dia- 
monds. Fact, I assure you, my dear ! I had 
it from — " 

" A perfect brute, not fit for any one to — " 

Here, Destiny knocked on the door; the 
round, rosy face of Miss Carey, the house- 
keeper, looked in. 

"Girls, you really must go to bed. Miss 
Russell sent me to say so. Do you know 
what time it is ? " 

Grace Wolfe slipped like a shadow out of 
the window and was gone unseen ; the assem- 



140 PEGGY. 

bly broke up with laughter and cheers for 
the Snowy and the Fluffy, and snatches of 
talk bubbling all the way along the corridor. 
When Peggy reached her room, she found the 
Scapegoat already there, sitting on the floor 
and chanting solemnly : 

" I have nailed my Puggy's slippers 
Down upon her closet floor. 
She may pray with both her flippers, 
But she'll never use them more I " 



CHAPTER VIII. 



BY MOONLIGHT. 



The time went quickly enough at Miss 
Russell's. Once the routine established, les- 
son followed lesson and day followed day 
with amazing rapidity. Before Peggy could 
realise that she was fairly settled, a month 
had passed. It was not so bad now ; in fact, 
a good deal of it was very pleasant, she was 
obliged to admit. Her geometry was a con- 
stantly progressing joy ; so was her anatomy, 
and she had the happy consciousness that she 
was doing well in both studies. This enabled 
her to bear up against the bitterness of rhet- 
oric and of Miss Pugsley. As for the history, 
once equally dreaded, its terrors had nearly 
vanished. Miss Cortland t had a way of mak- 
ing things so clear that one could not help 
remembering them once they were explained. 
Furthermore, she managed to invest the lay- 



141 



142 PEGGY. 

figures of dead and gone kings and conquerors 
with life and motion. Alexander the Great 
was no longer a tiresome person in a book, 
who cried in an absurd way when there was 
nothing left to conquer. That had always 
exasperated Peggy, " because if he had had 
any sense, he would have gone on, and found 
out for himself what a lot more there was, 
that his old books and seers and things had 
never found out." But now, she foujid 
Alexander in the first place a boy who 
knew about tiorses, which in itself was a 
great thing, and in the second place a man 
who knew about a great many other things, 
and who acted on his knowledge in a variety 
of swift and surprising ways. As with this 
hero, so with others, till Peggy came to look 
forward, actually, to the history hour; which 
shows what a teacher can do when she under- 
stands her girls, and knows enough to call 
Plutarch and his peers (if any !) to aid her in 
her task. 

But when all was said and done, Peggy 
was not cut out for a student ; and her hap- 
piest hours were not those of even the pleas- 



BY MOONLIGHT. 143 

antest class-room. Basket-ball claimed her 
for its own, and she proved an apt and ready 
learner in this branch of study. Less swift 
than Grace Wolfe, who seemed a thing com- 
pact of steel and gossamer, she was far 
stronger to meet an attack, and many a 
rush came and passed, and left the stalwart 
freshman standing steady and undaunted in 
her place. 

The hours of sport brought the two girls 
nearer and nearer together ; and Peggy found 
herself yielding more and more — often against 
her own judgment — to the fascination of the 
lawless girl, who on her part seemed curiously 
drawn to the simple, downright, law-abiding 
freshman. 

It was about this time that Peggy found 
out why her room had been called Broadway. 
The nights were still fine and warm, though 
it was now October. Apples were ripe in the 
neighbouring orchards ; and though it was 
perfectly practicable and allowable to buy all 
the apples one wanted in the daytime, that 
method did not approve itself to the wilder 
spirits at Miss Russell's school. 



144 PEGGY, 

To slide down the fire-escape, slip across 
the lawn, keeping well under the trees by the 
edge, and so out into the road and down to 
the nearest orchard, only a few rods off, — this 
was the true way to get apples, and a very 
thrilling way it. was. Peggy had been a good 
deal startled when the first merry party, with 
noiseless steps and stifled giggles, came steal- 
ing into her room, and, nodding to her, made 
their way out of the window and down the 
fire-escape. It never occurred to her to make 
any effort to stop them; they were sopho- 
mores, and she only a freshman. She sup- 
posed it was against the rules, but of course 
they would not really do any harm ; and oh, 
what a good time they would have ! 

She looked after them with a sigh, and 
wished them luck in her heart, a successful 
raid, and a safe return. Indeed, it was not 
long before they were back, rosy and breath- 
less, with baskets and pockets stuffed with 
apples. The Fresh Freshman, as Peggy was 
called, did not fail to receive her share ; and 
she ate it with a little thrill of vicarious 
guilt which was certainly not unpleasant. 



BY MOONLIGHT. 145 

The two Owls never came with these par- 
ties ; and somehow Peggy did not mention 
the matter to them, though she saw them 
constantly, and loved them always more and 
more. Sometimes the expeditions were headed 
by Grace Wolfe, in her wildest mood ; some- 
times it was Viola Vincent, who came tripping 
in with a band of her chosen intimates. Viola 
had several times asked Peggy to be of the 
party, but Peggy had not gone, — she could 
hardly have said why. Why was it that 
Grace had never asked her ? If she had, 
perhaps — 

The night came when Grace did ask her. 

Peggy had been studying as usual, and the 
signal for " lights out " came while she was 
still at her task. Out went the light, for 
Peggy was, as we have said, a law-abiding citi- 
zen. She was groping about, not yet used to 
the half-light of the growing moon, when the 
door opened, and Grace glided in with her 
usual noiseless tread. She laid her hand over 
Peggy's mouth without a word, and stood 
motionless, seeming to listen. Then she said 
aloud and deliberately : 



146 PEGGY. 

" Yes, I must go this minute. I had no 
idea it was so late. Suppose Miss Pugsley 
should catch us ! You know she goes around 
and listens at the doors every now and then, 
and looks through the keyholes to see what 
is going on." 

" Oh, Grace ! " said Peggy. 

" Fact, I assure you. I sometimes wonder 
what Miss Russell would say if she knew it. 
That isn't her own style, you see. The fun 
of it is, the other never realises that the 
wheeze gives her away every time." 

Grace Wolfe had the ears of a fox ; but, in 
the pause that followed, even Peggy heard, or 
fancied she heard, a breathing outside the 
door. It was only for an instant, if, in- 
deed, it had been at all ; yet in another mo- 
ment a board creaked somewhere along the 
corridor, and again in a moment came the 
slight but unmistakable sound of a closing 
door. 

Grace laughed, and pirouetted merrily on 
one foot, looking in the moonlight like a 
glimmering sprite. 

" Oh, Grace ! " repeated Peggy, aghast. 



BY MOONLIGHT. 147 

" Was she — could she have been there, do 
you think ? " 

"She could very easily have been there. 
Innocent/' replied the Scapegoat. " Indeed, 
she was. I saw the glitter of her eye, and a 
sweet thing it was.'' 

" Oh, but how could you ? how dared you ? 
Surely, you will get into dreadful trouble, 
Grace." 

" Not I ! " said Grace. " She can't report 
me, you observe, without saying that she was 
listening at the door. And even if she did, 
Miss Russell would ask her what I said, and 
she would be sad and sorry to relate that. 
No ! this time I am safe enough, my Prairie 
Flower. But come, now that I am here, shall 
we be merry ? 

" The owl is abroad, the bat, and the toad, 
And so is the catamountain. 

" Shall the Goat be lacking on such a night 
as this, or the Wolf either ? One has one's 
responsibilities toward one's names. Come, 
Innocent, we'll go abroad and celebrate my 
victory over my Puggy ! " 



148 PEGGY. 

Grace's tone was as quiet as ever, but she 
was more excited than Peggy had ever seen 
her. Her eyes shone ; her hair, which was 
very beautiful, was unbraided for some reason 
— one never knew what whim would seize 
the whimsical one — and hung like a mantle 
about her shoulders. Standing thus, with her 
hand on the window, she looked, as I have 
said, like a creature from another world. 

" Come ! " she repeated ; and Peggy had 
never heard sweeter music than her voice. 

"Do you — do you think I ought to?" 
stammered the freshman, moving toward the 
window. 

" One owes it to the catamountain ! " cried 
Grace. " As for the owls, — well, they will 
be abroad ! " she added, with a low laugh. 
" They would be far enough abroad if they 
knew. Come, Innocent ! " 

She glided out of the window, and Peggy 
followed, her heart beating to suffocation, her 
cheeks glowing with excitement. To be chosen 
by the Lone Wolf (for this was another of the 
•wild girl's nicknames, the third being Ishmael) 
as the companion of one of her solitary ram- 



BY MOONLIGHT. 149 

bles was perhaps the most thrilling thing that 
had ever come into Peggy's simple life. Prob- 
ably she would have had courage to resist an 
invitation from any of the frolicsome parties 
that came and went through her room ; she 
had no power to resist this. Silently she fol- 
lowed the Scapegoat down the iron ladder of 
the fire-escape, across the lawn, out into the 
open road. 

Grace turned to her with one of her sudden 
movements, and took both her hands. 

" The world's before us, where to choose ! " 
she cried. "What shall it be, Innocent? 
Shall we climb up into the tower and ring 
the fire-bell ? or go for apples ? This is your 
first expedition, you shall choose." 

" Oh, no, Grace ; please ! I don't know. 
I cannot. I'll go wherever you go, that's 
all ! " 

The Scapegoat meditated. "On the whole," 
she announced, " soda seems to be the thing. 
We'll go and have some soda, Innocent." 

" Go down-town ? " gasped Peggy. 

"Yes; why not? Only to Mrs. Button's. 
You know she is the college grandmother; 



150 PEGGY. 

why shouldn't she be ours? Many's the 
time Granny Button has sheltered me from 
the wrath to come. Besides, I have had no 
marshmallows for a week. A vow, a vow! 
I have a vow in heaven to have marsh- 
mallows once a week, merely for the honour 
of the school." 

Granny Button, as she was called, kept 
a neat little shop at the corner of the High 
Street. Here she dispensed soda-water, candy, 
and cakes to the students of school and col- 
lege. She was a little old woman, with a face 
like a dry but still sound winter apple, and 
she shook her head reprovingly as the two 
girls entered. 

"Now, Miss Wolfe!" she said. "You 
hadn't ought to come here at this time, 
now you hadn't, my dear. What do you 
want? I declare, I've most of a mind not 
to give it to you, for a wild slip as you are. 
What would Miss Russell say if she should 
come in this blessed minute, Miss Grace?" 

" Ah, but she won't, granny ! " said Grace, 
coolly. " She's gone to a lecture, you see, so 
it is all right, truly it is. 



BY MOONLIGHT. 151 

" I saw her go ; one horse was blind, 
The tails of both hung down behind, 
Their shoes were on their feet. 

" I got SO exhausted studying, I feared the 
vital spark might become extinguished, might 
pop out, granny, if I didn't have some soda. 
Two pineapple creams, please, and be quick 
about it. I'll be getting the marshmallows 
while you pour it." 

The old woman filled the long glasses, 
shaking her head all the time, and mutter- 
ing about naughty girls and dark closets. 

Peggy drank the soda, but it did not taste 
very good, and her hand trembled as she held 
the glass. Her eyes were fixed on the door, 
and every moment she expected to see it open, 
and Miss Russell or one of the teachers enter. 
But no one came. Grace found the" marsh- 
mallows, and in high spirits brought them to 
Mrs. Button to count and tie up for her. 

" Granny, you look lovely to-night ! " she 
said. " Don't try to look cross. Granny But- 
ton, for you don't know how. Smile on me, 
lovely one, for we must kiss and part." 

"Indeed, then, we'd, better. Miss Grace," 



152 PEGGY. 

cried the good woman ; " and don't let me see 
you here again this long while, save and ex- 
cept at proper hours. I know well enough 
I ought to tell that good lady of all the times 
you've been here out of hours. Yes, dear, I 
know it weir enough^ and sometimes it makes 
me uneasy in my bed. But you have the 
beguiling of the serpent himself, Grace Wolfe, 
and you know it, and that's the worst." 

" Isn't it ? " said Grace, pensively ; and her 
large eyes were full of tender gravity, as she 
fixed them on the old woman. 

"I'll add serpent to my menagerie, and 
thank you, granny ! Nobody ever called you 
serpent, did they, dear ? Wait till you come 
to my time in life, and you'll know what it is 
to suffer. 

" Well, Innocent, shall we come ? After 
all, it is hard to stay where one isn't wanted, 
and the only trouble with Granny Button is 
that she has no heart." 

" Yes, go, dear ! " said the old woman to 
Peggy, eagerly. " Go right along home now, 
and don't let Miss Grace bring ye out again, 
as she's a naughty girl, and so I always tell 



BY MOONLIGHT. 153 

her, though I never can say no to her, and 
that's the truth. But you are different, dear, 
and a freshman, I'll be bound ; and don't let 
me see ye here again without leave or license, 
let alone the hour as is getting on for ' lights 
out.' " 

" Fare thee well, my first and fairest ! " said 
Grace, kissing her hand at the door. "Till 
our next meeting ! " 

It was only a few steps back from the turn 
into the High Street. Peggy's pulse began to 
beat more naturally ; in a moment, now, they 
would be back, safe back, and she would 
never do it again, no matter what Grace 
thought of her. Fun was fun, but it was 
not worth this; and what would Margaret 
say? 

Coming up from the High Street, they 
skirted a field that lay like waving silver 
in the moonlight. Nothing would do but 
that Grace must have a run through this 
field; she declared that it was her favourite 
spot in the world. 

"After all, soda and marshmallows are 
carnal ! " she insisted. " Our bodies are fed, 



154 PEGGY. 

Innocent, our souls starve for want of poetry. 
There is poetry in all that silver waving. I 
must ! I must prance, or I shall not rest in 
my bed. Come along ! " 

And she went flitting about through the 
long grass, hither and thither like a will-o'- 
the-wisp, her long hair floating around her, 
her arms waving in gestures sometimes fan- 
tastic, but always graceful. Peggy could think 
of nothing but her cousin Rita, as she used to 
dance in the old days at Fernley. What 
a pair she and Grace would make ! What a 
mercy they had never come together. More- 
over, her heart, the heart of a farmer's 
daughter, smote her at the treading down of 
the grass. She stood at the edge of the field, 
now and then calling to her companion and 
urging her to come home, but for the most 
part simply watching her in mingled terror 
and admiration. 

At length the wild spirit was satisfied, and 
Grace came flying back, radiant and breath- 
less. 

" That was glorious ! " she said. " Poor 
little Innocent, you haven't much soul, have 



L 



BY MOONLIGHT. 155 

you? Still, I love you. Come, we will g© 
back to the shades." . 

They neared the gate ; as they did so, they 
heard voices and the sound of approaching 
footsteps. Grace paused for a moment ; then 
held up her hand with a warning gesture. 
Peggy felt her heart turn cold ; it was com- 
ing ! one of the voices was that of Miss Rus- 
sell. It was impossible for them to escape 
being seen. The broad stretch of the lawn 
lay between them and safety, and the relent- 
less moonlight lay full upon the hedge which 
had lain in shadow when they came out. 
Peggy braced herself to meet the shock ; but 
Grace laid a hand on her arm, and then made 
a gesture. A great tree stood just by the 
gate of Pentland School; a chestnut-tree, 
with low-jutting, wide-spreading branches. 
With the swift movement of some woodland 
creature, Grace Wolfe swung herself up to 
the lowest branch, and motioned Peggy to 
follow ; Peggy was a good climber, too ; more 
slowly, but with equal agility, she gained the 
branch; then softly, slowly, both girls crept 
along, inward and upward, till a thick 



156 PEGGY. 

screen of leaves hid them completely from 
sight. 

Two ladies came around the turn, and 
paused a moment at the gate, — Miss Russell 
and Miss Cortlandt. They stood directly 
under the chestnut-tree; Peggy could have 
dropped a nut down exactly on the crown of 
Miss Russell's bonnet; she never knew how 
near Grace came to doing so, nor how hard it 
was to refrain for her, Peggy's, sake. 

" I hope not ! " said Miss Russell. " I do 
most earnestly hope not." 

"I am afraid there is little doubt of 
it ! " replied Miss Cortlandt. " Miss Pugsley 
seemed quite positive; I know she means to 
bring it up at Faculty Meeting to-morrow 
night." 

Miss Russell sighed. " Then it will not be 
done in the wisest manner ! " she said. " I 
can say this to you, Emily, for you under- 
stand her as well as I do. I had hoped," she 
continued, " that the whole business would be 
over when Wilhelmina Lightwood — well, I 
suppose she will always be ' Billy,' even to 
me — when Billy went away. I put Peggy 



BY MOONLIGHT. 157 

Montfort there, because she seemed such an 
honest, steady, sensible kind of girl. I 
thought I could trust Peggy Montfort." 

" I think you can ! " said Miss Cortlandt. 
" I don't believe Peggy has had any share in 
the flittings. But I do think it might per- 
haps have been better to tell her all about it, 
and put her on her guard. Being a new girl, 
she might not feel at liberty to stop the older 
ones when they came ; and she could not tell 
of it. You see. Miss Russell, it is such a 
little time since I was a ' girl ' myself, that I 
haven't got away from their point of view yet." 

" I hope you never will, my dear ! " said 
Miss Russell, warmly. " It is when I get too 
far away from that point of view myself that 
I make mistakes. Yes, I ought to have put 
the child on her guard ; I'll do so to-morrow." 

She looked over toward the school, and 
sighed again. 

" Broad is the way that leadeth to destruc- 
tion ! " she said. " It was Grace who gave it 
the name, of course. Poor Grace ! " 

" Poor Grace ! " echoed Miss Cortlandt ; and 
then the two passed on. 



158 PEGGY. 

They were two very silent girls who 
crossed the lawn five minutes later. Grace 
Wolfe held her head high, and walked with 
her usual airy grace ; her face was grave, but 
perhaps no graver than usual. Still, she did 
not speak; as for Peggy, she was too bowed 
down with shame and wretchedness to think 
even of her companion. She had been 
trusted; and she had betrayed the trust. 
There seemed nothing in the whole world 
but that. 

They parted outside Peggy's window. 
Grace was going up a story higher on the 
fire-escape, Peggy did not think nor ask 
where. 

No word was spoken ; only, Grace laid her 
hand on Peggy's shoulder and looked in her 
face for a moment. Peggy could not speak, 
could only shake her head. A single sob 
broke from her lips; then she hurried in, 
and closed the window behind her. 

Then Grace Wolfe did a singular thing. 
Standing on the iron step, she took from her 
pocket the packet of marshmallows, and 
deliberately scattered them over the lawn, 



BY MOONLIGHT. 159 

throwing each one as far as her arm could 
reach. 

" For the frogs ! " she explained, aloud. 
^^With the compliments of the Goat, the 
Wolf, and the Serpent, — to which is now 
added the Beast which Perishes ! " 



CHAPTER IX. 

FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 

^' Have you proof of this, Miss Pugsley ? " 
" I am perfectly sure of it, Miss Russell ! " 
" Yes ; I am sure you would be, before you 
spoke of it; but have you the proof? Of 
course, before taking any such serious step as 
you propose, I should, in justice to all, be 
obliged to ask for positive proof." 

" Proof ! " cried Miss Pugsley, in some ex- 
citement. " Proof enough ! Look at my bon- 
net. Miss Russell. Oblige me by smelling of 
it. I can never wear it again, never ! I tell 
you, brandy has been poured over it. Here 
are the slippers ! " She produced a pair of 
slippers which were certainly in a sad condi- 
tion . " They were nailed — nailed with ten- 
penny nails, to the floor of my closet; they 
are totally ruined. Look — I ask you all, 
ladies, to look at my hand-glass ! " She held 

160 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 161 

up the glass ; and at the sight Emily Cort- 
landt had one of those violent fits of coughing 
that often troubled her ; this one was so bad 
that she was obliged to leave the room for a 
moment. The worst of it was that one or 
two of the other teachers seemed to have 
caught the infection, for there was a regular 
outbreak of coughing and choking, which only 
a severe glance from Miss Russell checked. 

Somebody had painted a face on the little 
mirror. It covered the whole surface ; the 
face of a monkey, with grinning mouth, and 
twinkling, malicious eyes; it had an un- 
doubted resemblance to Miss Pugsley. As 
she held it up with a tragic gesture, the effect 
was so absurd that even Miss Russell might 
have wished that she could — cough ! 

'^It lay on my dressing-table, face down- 
ward," Miss Pugsley went on. "I had just 
done my hair for tea, — I am scrupulous in 
such matters, — and took up the glass to see 
that my pug was straight behind. I looked — 
and saw this. Ladies, I could have fainted on 
the floor. My nerves being what they are, it 
is a marvel that I did not." 



162 PEGGY. 



ii 



I am very, very sorry, Miss Pugsley," said 
Miss Russell, gravely. " If I knew who had 
done this — " 

" But I tell you I do know, Miss Russell ! *' 
cried Miss Pugsley, vindictively. " I tell you 
that there is only one girl in the school who 
is capable of all this, and that girl is Grace 
Wolfe ! " 

There was a moment's silence. 

"Have you found Grace in your room at 
any time. Miss Pugsley?" demanded Miss 
Russell. 

No, Miss Pugsley had not, but that made 
no difference. Grace had done the things, 
there was no shadow of a doubt of it. 

" Have you been careful to lock your door 
when you left the room ? " 

"Miss Russell, you know that locks and 
bolts make no possible difference to Grace 
Wolfe. The girl is cut out for a male- 
factor. I prophesy that she will be in 
State's prison before she has been out of 
school a year." 

"I must request you not to speak in this 
way of any of my yoimg ladies," said the 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 163 

Principal, sternly, " You have been the vic- 
tim of some very malicious practical jokes, 
Miss Pugsley. I shall look into the matter 
thoroughly, and shall do my best to discover 
the offender, and shall punish her — or them 
— as I think best." She laid a slight empha- 
sis on the last words. 

" Then you refuse to expel Grace Wolfe ? " 
said Miss Pugsley, quivering with anger. 

" On such evidence as you have brought 
forward to-night ? certainly," said Miss Rus- 
sell, with some severity. " I have no proof 
whatever that Miss Wolfe played any of these 
pranks, though I admit it is probable that she 
may have done so. You found the bandbox 
outside your door, where Bridget admits she 
left it several days before. You left your 
door unlocked on a rainy half-holiday, when 
sixty or more girls were constantly passing 
and repassing; there are half a dozen girls, 
I am sorry to say, who might have been 
tempted by the open door to play some prank 
of the kind which seems so clever to children, 
and so silly to older people." 

Why did Miss Russell look toward the win- 



164 PEGGY. 

dow as she spoke ? But now she was looking 
at Miss Pugsley again. 

" You and Grace are not friends, I know, 
Miss Pugsley/' she went on. "I am sorry for 
it, for I think all the rest of us feel how much 
that is fine and noble might — may still be 
brought out of that untamed spirit. She has 
never known a mother, remember. The name 
of the Scapegoat, which she has given herself, 
may, I sometimes think, reflect blame on the 
rest of us as well as on her. It is true that, 
whatever mischief is afoot, it is sure to be 
laid at Grace's door. This is mainly her own 
fault, of course — " 

" I should think so ! " snorted Miss Pugsley. 

" But not entirely," the Principal went on. 
"There are other mischievous girls in the 
school. I should like to know how Grace 
has been doing this month in her various 
classes," she added, turning to the other 
teachers. 

On this point the testimony was unanimous. 
Grace Wolfe led many of the classes ; she was 
well up in all, and had passed her examina- 
tions in a way that did credit both to her in- 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 165 

telligence and her industry. Thus testified 
every teacher, except the small brown mouse 
who taught drawing in Pentland School. 
This mouse, Miss Mink by name, had crept 
away silently, and left the room, after one 
glance at the hand-glass ; she knew that but 
one hand in the school could have drawn that 
monkey, and though her heart swelled with 
pride, she feared for her darling pupil. 

There was a pause after the teachers had 
given their testimony; then Miss Pugsley 
returned to the attack. 

" I certainly hope justice will be done, Miss 
Russell," she said, with a smile of sweetened 
vinegar. " It would be a great pity, wouldn't 
it, if the school got the reputation — he ! he ! 
— of injustice and favouritism ? " 

" It would," said the Principal, gravely. 

"But there is another matter that I feel 
bound to speak of before we separate," Miss 
Pugsley went on. " Are you aware that room 
No. 18, in corridor A, the room formerly oc- 
cupied by Miss Lightwood, is again being used 
as a place of exit for parties of students going 
on lawless expeditions ? " 



166 PEGGY. 

The Principal looked at her steadily. 

" I fear that is true/' said one of the other 
teachers. " I had meant to speak to you 
before about it, Miss Russell, but waited till 
to-night." 

"Of course it makes no possible difference 
to me ! " cried Miss Pugsley. " It is not my 
corridor, and I have no authority there ; but 
as long as one is in the school, of course one 
must consider the honour of it, you know, and 
I am glad some one else is here to bear me 
out in this complaint." 

The Principal still looked at Miss Pugsley ; 
teachers who had been long in the school were 
glad that she was not looking at them in that 
way. 

"I have heard of this matter before," Miss 
Russell said, at last. " I am going to devote 
my own time to investigating it, and think I 
shall need no help ; though I thank you," it 
was to Miss Ivors that she spoke, " for bring- 
ing it to my notice, as it was right for you to 
do. I think I need not detain you longer, 
ladies." 

When the teachers were gone. Miss Russell 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 167 

stepped to the window and said, softly, 
" Grace ! " 

There was no reply. An owl hooted in the 
distance ; a bird chirped somewhere near by. 
That was all. 

" Grace ! " said the Principal again. " If 
you are there, I wish you would come in and 
let me speak to you." 

Still no reply. After waiting a moment, 
the Principal closed the window with a sigh. 
On leaving the room she paused a moment to 
look at the photograph of a lovely young 
woman, in the dress of twenty years ago, 
which stood on her desk. 

"Dear Edith!" said Miss Russell. "My 
first pupil ! Ill keep your girl for you, Edith, 
if I can ! " 

Was Grace Wolfe outside the window when 
the Principal called her ? Who can tell ? It 
is certain that ten minutes after she was at 
the supper in Bedlam. 

The tenant of Bedlam, Miss Cornelia Hatch 
(familiarly known as Colney Hatch, in re- 
membrance of the famous English Insane 



168 PEGGY. 

Asylum), was not actually mad, though many 
of the scholars thought her so. She was a 
special student of natural history, botany, and 
zoology; she was absent-minded and forgetful 
to the last degree. When she came into class, 
she often had to be brought there, some good- 
natured classmate dragging her away by main 
force from her private experiments. If she 
did remember to come of her own accord, she 
was apt to have a half-completed articulation 
hanging around her neck, or a dried frog skin 
stuck behind her ear for safe-keeping. Her 
hair was generally untidy, owing to this habit 
of sticking things in it while she worked ; you 
never could tell what it would be, vertebraB, 
or seaweed, or pine-cones, but you could 
safely reckon on finding something extra- 
neous in Colney's ruffled black hair. As for 
her clothes, she was usually enveloped in a 
huge brown gingham apron, with many pock- 
ets, which held snakes, or eggs, or roots, or 
anything else that would not go comfortably 
in her hair. When the apron became too 
dirty (she had had two at the beginning of 
the term, but one had been destroyed in an 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 169 

explosion), Miss Carey took it away and 
washed it, while Colney went around looking 
scared and miserable in a queer flannel gown 
of a pinkish shade. Report said it had once 
been brown, but that the colour had been 
changed by the fumes of something or other, 
no one knew what. Sometimes she had but- 
tons on frock and apron, more often not. 
Periodically, Miss Carey or the Owls de- 
scended upon her, and sewed on her buttons 
and mended her up generally; and she was 
very grateful, and said how nice it was to 
have buttons. But she soon pulled them off 
again, because she never had time to do any- 
thing but tear her clothes off when she went 
to bed, and drag them on again when she got 
up. When a button flew off, she pinned the 
place over, if a pin was in sight ; if not, she 
went without; it made no difference to her, 
and she was not conscious of it in five minutes. 
Miss Russell, and most of the teachers, were 
very tender with Colney. She was poor, and 
meant to work her way through college ; even 
now she paid part of her schooling by stuffing 
birds and setting up skeletons for one of the 



170 PEGGY. 

college professors. If she did not kill herself 
or somebody else before she graduated, Miss 
Russell looked forward to a distinguished 
career for the tenant of Bedlam ; so, as I have 
said, she was tender and patient with her; 
and good Miss Carey mended her when she 
could, and saw that she remembered to eat 
her dinner, and Miss Boyle and Miss Mink 
rejoiced over her, and Miss Cortlandt led her 
gently through English literature, giving her 
Walton and Bacon and all the scientific men 
of letters that she could find. Only one teacher 
failed to do her best to smooth poor Colney's 
path through school ; that was Miss Pugsley. 
Rhetoric was simply an empty noise to the 
girl. She never by any chance knew a les- 
son, and Miss Pugsley lashed her with so cruel 
a tongue that Peggy used to ache and smart 
for her as well as for herself, and would get 
hold of Colney's hand and hold it and squeeze 
it, growing red the while with pity and anger. 
But Colney never noticed it half as much as 
Peggy did ; she used to look at the angry 
teacher for a few minutes in an abstracted 
kind of way, and then retire within herself 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 171 

and make imaginary experiments. This was 
what happened on the dreadful day when 
Miss Pugsley said : 

" The subject of this sentence is /. How 
do we go to work to form the predicate, Miss 
Hatch ? " 

Cornelia started, but replied, instantly : 

" By mixing one part hydrogen with three 
parts — " 

" Indeed ! " said Miss Pugsley, with ominous 
calm. " And what happens next, pray ? " 

" It turns green, and explodes with a loud 
report." 

And this was exactly what did happen. 
Poor Colney ! 

Peggy Montfort did not form one of the 
party in Bedlam that night. The room lay 
at the extreme end of the corridor, round a 
corner, so that it was in a manner shut off 
from the rest of the wing. It was an extraor- 
dinary place. Stretched on the walls, dried 
or drying, were /specimens of every possible 
variety, — bats, frogs, snake skins, bird skins. 
Along the mantelpiece were jars and bottles, 
all containing other specimens preserved in 



172 PEGGY. 

spirits. In one corner stood part of a human 
skeleton. It stood on one leg, with a jaunty 
air, having indeed but one leg to stand on ; 
both arms were wanting, but the skull, which 
was a very fine one, made up for much. On 
account of this fragmentary skeleton, few of 
the younger girls ever dared to enter Bedlam, 
and some of them would run past the door 
with face averted, and beating heart, fearing 
lest the door should be open and they should 
catch a glimpse of the gruesome thing. But 
this object was the pride of Colney's heart. 
She could not, of course, afford to buy a whole 
skeleton, so she was collecting one, bit by bit ; 
even Peggy had been quite uncomfortable one 
day, when Colney had told her, hanging over 
each bone with delight, where and how she 
had come by each one. It was always hon- 
estly, one could be sure of that. 

Everywhere in the room, underfoot and 
overhead, were setting-boards and pill-boxes, 
blowpipes and crucibles. One could not move 
without upsetting something ; and yet it was 
here that the Gang came to have its annual 
supper. 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 173 

Colney Hatch was dissecting a mouse. 
She was perfectly happy, and oblivious of 
the world, when the door opened, and in 
came fluttering the wild spirits of the junior 
and sophomore classes. Last year the sopho- 
mores had been freshmen, and must not know 
anything about the Gang, save in wondering 
envious whispers and surmises. Next year 
the juniors would be seniors, and they too 
must forget that such a thing as the Gang 
had been, and think only of dramatics, exam- 
inations, and graduation. Such had been the 
unwritten law at Miss Russell's, since time was. 

Here were Vanity and Vexation of Spirit, 
one smiling and dimpling, the other with her 
usual air of blas6 superiority. Here was 
Blanche Haight, the leader among the soph- 
omores ; here were six or eight girls, in fact, 
chosen from the two classes for the same 
characteristics, lawlessness and love of fun; 
last but not least, here was Grace Wolfe, the 
acknowledged leader and queen of the Gang, 
when she deigned to be so. 

Grace was in her wildest mood to-night. 
She danced solemnly around poor Colney, 



174 PEGGY. 

who looked up in dismay from her mouse as 
the silent crowd came pouring in, and assured 
her that her last hour was come. 

" We are the Secret Tribunal ! " she cried. 
"We have come to make a pile of all your 
rubbish, Colney, and burn it, with you on 
top, like the Phoenix. I am sure you would 
come up out of the ashes, if we left the mouse 
out for you to finish." 

" Oh, do be careful, please, Goat ! " cried 
Colney Hatch. "Don't sit down on that 
frog, he isn't dry ! Dear me ! do you — do 
want anything, girls ? " 

" We want your room, my love ; and your 
company ! " replied Grace. " Yet we are merci- 
ful. Here ! " 

She twirled Cornelia's chair around, and set 
her with her face to the wall; then moved 
the lamp so that its light fell on the board in 
her lap. 

" There ! " she said. " Finish him, poor old 
dear, and we'll wake you up when supper's 
ready. Now then ! who's brought what ? " 

Then, from pockets, from surplice folds, 
from shawls and cloaks himg carelessly over 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 175 

the arm, came forth a strange array of ar- 
ticles. One had brought a chicken, one a 
cake. Here was a Dutch cheese, a tin of 
crackers, a bottle of coffee, a bottle of olives, 
and a box of sardines. Grace herself told in 
high glee how she had met one of the teachers 
in the corridor, and had stood for five minutes 
talking about the next day's lesson. ^^And 
with this under me cloak the while ! " and 
with a dramatic gesture she produced and 
held out a dish of lobster salad. 

"If it had been potato,'* she declared, "I 
had been lost; the onion had betrayed me. 
Blessings on the bland, the seductive mayon- 
naise, which. veiled the ardent lobster and his 
smell. She did smell it, however, and said, 
so cheerfully, poor dear, that Miss Carey was 
evidently going to give us a surprise to-mor- 
row, for she smelt lobster. It was Miss Cort- 
landt, too ; I did want to say, ' Oh, come 
along, and have some ! ' She is a rectangular 
fragment of baked clay, used for building 
purposes. Miss Cortlandt is." 

" What do you mean. Goat ? " asked some 
one. 



176 PEGGY. 

" I never use slang, as you know ! " replied 
Grace, gravely. " It argues a poverty of in- 
tellect, as well as a small vocabulary. I 
suppose you would have said she was a brick, 
my child." 

" Oh, Goat, how funny you are ! " giggled 
the girls. 

"Not at all, I assure you," said Grace, 
unmoved. "But I pray you fall to! Have 
some salad, Vanity? yes, I'll take a wing, 
thank you." 

"Isn't this perf'ly fine?" cried Viola Vin- 
cent. They were all seated by this time, 
some on the floor, others wherever they could 
find a few inches of spare room, and were 
dispensing the viands with reckless liberality. 
" I say ! I wish we had these every week, 
instead of only once a year. Why, it's just 
as easy ! Oh, what an elegant cream pie ! 
Give me some ! " 

" No ! " said Grace Wolfe, with emphasis. 

" Why not ? What's the matter. Goat ? " 

" I will not have pies called elegant while 
I am leader of this Gang," said Grace. " Take 
my life, if you will, but spare my feelings ! " 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 177 

"All right," said Viola, cheerily. "Your 
own way, Goat. I'd just as lief call it dandy, 
and it is dandy, you can't deny that." 

" Perhaps the Goat is thinking of succeed- 
ing her Puggy in the rhetoric chair ! " said 
Blanche Haight, with a sneer. 

" Perhaps I am thinking of stopping your 
— " began Grace ; but she checked herself, 
and turned away abruptly. 

" Look at Colney ! " said Vivia Varnham. 
" Isn't she too perfectly killing ? She doesn't 
know we are here, I believe. Look at her 
hair, girls! It gets more ratty, not to say 
woozzy, every day. I wonder when she 
brushed it last." 

"Possibly when you brushed your man- 
ners," said the Scapegoat. "Colney is our 
hostess, I beg to remind you. And nobody 
giving her a bite of supper ! " 

She rose from the floor, piled a plate with 
good things, and went over to the corner 
where Colney Hatch was bending over her 
mouse, conscious of nothing else. 

" Here, Colney ; here's your supper." 

" Oh, thank you, Grace," said Colney, look- 



178 PEGGY. 

ing Tip for a moment. "But I can't, you 
know. Both my hands are full, you see." 

" Then open your mouth/' commanded the 
Scapegoat, in tones of authority. 

Colney obeyed meekly, and Grace stood 
over her, feeding her like a baby with the 
choicest morsels, and now and then casting 
a glance over her shoulder at the others. 
Grace's gaiety was fitful to-night, certainly. 
When she first came in she had been the life 
of the party ; now, as she stood there in the 
corner, her brow was overcast, her eyes 
gloomy. What ailed the Lone Wolf ? 

What were they saying over there ? They, 
at least, were at the very height of glee, 
breaking into gusts of giggling, into whisper- 
ings ending in squeaks and smothered screams. 

"To-morrow night? Hurrah! Through 
Broadway, of course." 

" Freshy ? Oh, Freshy won't say anything. 
She wouldn't dare to, in the first place." 

"She'd dare fast enough," said Viola. 
"She isn't afraid of anything, Freshy isn't. 
But she's safe, she won't say anything." 

"What's all this?" demanded the Scape- 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 179 

goat, coming back with the empty plate. 
" Plans ? Does one hear them ? " 

" The apples are all gone," said Kitty 
Green. "We're going for some to-morrow 
night, Goat. You'll go, too, of course ? " 

" Going out through Broadway," said Viola. 
" We haven't been out for more than a week, 
and the moon will be nearly full to-morrow. 
It'll be perf'ly fine. Goat, won't it?" 

"Veto!" said Grace, calmly. 

" Veto ? Why, what do you mean ? " 

" What's wrong ? " 

" What has happened ? " 

" Nothing has happened. Boots are no 
longer free, that's all." 

" Do speak English, Grace Wolfe ! What 
do you mean ? " 

" There — are — to — be — no more — free- 
booting expeditions — through Broadway. Is 
that sufficiently plain, or shall I spell the 
words?" 

Blanche Haight rose to her feet, several 
of the other girls following her. " What is 
the matter with you to-night, Goat ? " she said. 
" We don't seem to succeed in satisfying you. 



180 PEGGY. 

Aren't we good enough company for you, per- 
haps?" And Blanche sneered in her own 
particular manner, of which she was proud. 

" I make no remarks/' said the Scapegoat, 
in her quietest tones. " I have not been per- 
sonal. I merely say, while I lead this Gang, 
there will be no more expeditions through 
Broadway." 

"And how long do you suppose you will 
lead this Gang, if you play the part of Pope 
and emperor?" demanded Blanche. 

The other girls began to murmur and pro- 
test at this. " Listen to the Goat ! " said one 
and another. " She must have some reason, 
or she wouldn't act so." 

But Grace seized her opportunity. 

"How long?" she repeated. "Not an 
hour ! not a second ! I resign. My last act 
is to break up this meeting. To your tents, 
Israel ! " 

Then arose such a confusion of whispering, 
exclaiming, disclaiming, entreating, protest- 
ing, that no one voice could be heard. The 
owner of the room, fairly roused for a mo- 
ment (but indeed she had finished the mouse). 



FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 181 

turned round to see what was wrong. For a 
moment she saw the two leaders, Grace and 
Blanche, facing each other, the one pale and 
quiet, the other red with anger, her eyes dart- 
ing spiteful flames. Next moment, Grace 
made a single quick movement, and the room 
was in darkness. She had blown out the 
lamp. 

" To your tents ! " she repeated, sternly. 
And, hurrying, whispering, stumbling over 
the remains of their feast scattered on the 
floor, the frightened girls obeyed. 



CHAPTER X. 



TEACHEK AND PUPIL. 



The day after the escapade was the worst 
one that Peggy Montfort had ever known. 
She was too strong and healthy to lie awake 
all nightj though it was much later than usual 
before she ceased to toss in uneasy wretched- 
ness and lay peacefully sleeping. When morn- 
ing came, she woke, and for a moment greeted 
the bright day joyfully. Then " remembrance 
came like a hand at her throat, and she shiv- 
ered, and all the blue seemed to fade away, 
and leave nothing but cold, miserable gray 
over all the world. What had she done? What 
would Uncle John and Margaret, what would 
Brother Hugh think, if they should know 
this ? Slowly and heavily she dressed and 
went down to breakfast. There, it seemed as 
if everybody knew what she had done. Miss 
Russell's eyes rested thoughtfully on her as 



182 



TEACHEK AND PUPIL. 183 

she bade her good morning; Peggy shrank 
away, and could not meet the gaze. If she 
did not know now, she would soon. "An 
honest, steady, sensible girl ! " Well, Miss Rus- 
sell would find she had been mistaken, that 
was all ; and of course she would never trust 
again where she had once been deceived. And 
yet Peggy knew in her heart that there was 
no girl in the school who was so little likely 
to do this thing again as herself. She was by 
nature, as I have said, a law-abiding creature, 
with a natural reverence for authority. To 
have set the law at defiance was bad enough ; 
to have done it secretly, and betrayed the 
trust that had been placed in her, that was 
worse ! That was beyond possibility of par- 
don. Thus argued Peggy in her wretched- 
ness ; and all through the morning she went 
over it again and again, and yet again, seeing 
no help or comfort anjrwhere. Bertha Haugh- 
ton, always quick in sympathy, saw the 
trouble in her friend's face, and came over in 
"gym" and begged to know what was the 
matter. Wasn't Peggy well ? Had anything 
happened to trouble her ? Peggy shook her 



184 PEGGY. 

head ; she could not tell even this good friend 

— yet. There was some one else who must 
be told first. She promised to come to the 
Owls' Nest later in the day, and Bertha was 
forced to be content with this, and left her 
with a vague sense of uneasiness and a feel- 
ing that somehow little Peggy had grown 
suddenly older and more mature. Yes, there 
is nothing like trouble for that ! 

It was almost a relief when the summons 
came. 

" Miss Montf ort. Miss Russell would like to 
see you in the study." 

Peggy steadied herself for the encounter, 
and went quietly. If only she could be met 
with a cold look, it would be easier, somehow 

— but no ! the Principal's gray eyes were as 
kind as ever, her smile as gravely sweet, as 
she said, pleasantly, " Good morning, Miss 
Montf ort. Good afternoon, I should say; I 
forgot how late it was. Sit down for a mo- 
ment, will you? I want to ask you about 
something." 

Peggy did not want to sit down. She 
wanted to stand still and go through with it. 



TEACHER AND PUPIL. 185 

and then get away to her own room. But 
there was no disregarding the request, so she 
sat down on the edge of a chair and set her 
teeth. 

" I hardly know where to begin ! " said Miss 
Russell. "I am going to take you into my 
confidence — Peggy." 

Peggy shivered a little, but said nothing, 
only set her teeth harder. 

" There has been a good deal of trouble," 
Miss Russell went on, " a good deal of trouble 
in former years with the room which you now 
occupy. The girl who occupied it was — was 
wild and undisciplined, and took pleasure in 
breaking bounds, and in inducing others to do 
so. She — there were a number of girls who 
used to go out without leave, by way of the 
fire-escape outside the window." 

She paused a moment, and looked at Peggy, 
but Peggy made no sign. 

" That girl — left the school last year, not 
to return ; but there are several still here who 
used to share in those wild pranks (under- 
taken in mere thoughtlessness, I am glad to 
think, and not with any evil intent), and I 



186 PEGGY. 

have been afraid — in fact, it has come to my 
ears, that the room was again being used for 
the same purpose." 

She paused again ; but still Peggy was 
silent. What could she say? Besides, no 
question had been asked her — yet ! 

The question came. "You are silent, Peggy. 
Do you know anything about this matter?" 

"Yes, Miss Russell ! '' said Peggy, faintly. 

"I feel," said the Principal, in a tone of 
regret, " that I have been to blame in not 
warning you of this beforehand, and putting 
you on your guard. I had hoped that when 
Bil — when the young lady of whom I spoke 
was gone, the whole thing would die out; it is 
a distressing thing to warn a pupil against her 
schoolmates. Still, I feel that in this case I 
ought to have done so. I place entire confi- 
dence in you, Peggy. I am sure that you 
would not yourself break the rules of the 
school ; but you may have been put to incon- 
venience and distress by the lawlessness of 
others. I am very sorry if this has been the 



case." 



Peggy shut her eyes tight, and said " Mar- 



TEACHER AND PUPIL. 187 

garet ! " twice to herself. Then she looked at 
the Principal. 

"Miss Russell," she said, — she tried to 
steady her voice, but it would come strange 
and shaky, — "you are mistaken about me. 
I am not the kind of girl you think I am. I 

— I went out last night without leave, by the 
fire-escape." 

There was a silence. 

"Who induced you — that is, with whom 

did you go ? " asked Miss Russell, presently. 

"I — I didn't say that any one else went." 

"No, my dear, you did not say so. But 

— " and here Miss Russell rose, and, crossing 
the room, laid her hand on Peggy's shoulder ; 
" if I know anything at all of girls, you did 
not go alone, and you did not go of your own 
motion. And — Peggy, if you were not the 
kind of girl I thought you, you would not be 
feeling as you do now about the whole thing." 

This was too much. Peggy could have 
borne, or she thought she could have borne, 
anger or scorn, or the cold indifference that 
is born of contempt; but the kind tone, the 
look of affectionate inquiry, the friendly hand 



188 PEGGY. 

on her shoulder, — all this she could not bear. 
She covered her face with her hands and burst 
into a passion of tears. 

It seemed hours that she wept, and sobbed, 
and wept again. It did not seem as if she 
could ever stop, the tears came rushing so 
fast and so violently; but however long it 
was. Miss Russell did not try to stop or check 
her, only stood by with her hand on the girl's 
shoulder, patting it now and then, or putting 
back with the other hand — such a soft, firm, 
motherly hand it was ! — the stray locks 
which kept falling over Peggy's face as the 
sobs shook her from head to foot. 

At last, however, the storm abated a little ; 
and then, while Peggy was trying to dry her 
tears, and the choking sobs were subsiding 
into long, deep breathings. Miss Russell spoke 
again. 

"Peggy, we teachers have to go a good 
deal by instinct, do you know it? It is not 
possible for me, for example, to know every 
one of seventy-odd girls as I ought to know 
her, by actual contact and communion. But 
I have acquired a sort of sense, — I hardly 



TEACHER AND PUPIL. 189 

know what to call it, — an insight by means 
of which I can tell pretty well what a girl's 
standard of life is, and how I can best help 
her. I know that now I can best help you 
and myself by saying — and meaning — just 
what I said before. I place entire confidence 
in you, Peggy Montfort." 

Peggy looked up in amazement ; could she 
believe what she heard ? 

"To some girls," the Principal went on, 
"the taste of stolen fruit is sweet, and hav- 
ing once tasted it, they hanker for more. To 
you, it is bitter." 

" Oh ! " said Peggy ; and the gasping ex- 
clamation was enough. 

" Very bitter ! " said the Principal. " I 
speak not from impulse, but from experience, 
when I tell you that there is no girl in the 
school to-day whom I could sooner trust not 
to commit this offence than you, who com- 
mitted it last night." 

Her own thought, almost her own words. 
Peggy raise her head again, and this time her 
eyes were full of a new hope, a new courage. 

" I believe that is true. Miss Russell," she 



190 PEGGY. 

said, simply. " I had thought that myself, 
but 1 didn't suppose — I didn't think — '' 

" You did not think tliat I would know 
enough to understand it ! " said Miss Russell, 
smiling. " Well, you see I do, though we 
both owe it partly to dear Emily Cortlandt, 
who reminded me of my duty and of your 
position. Now, Peggy, I have a recitation, 
and we must part. I put you in charge of 
' Broadway,' fully and freely. No one must 
come in, and no one must go out, by that 
window. And if you have any trouble," she 
added, with a smile, " if you have any trouble 
and do not think it right to tell me, call for 
the Owls, and they will help you. Good-bye, 
my child!" 

She held out her hand, and Peggy took it 
with a wild desire to kiss it, or to fall down 
and kiss the hem of her gown who had shown 
herself thus an angel of S3niipathy and kind- 
ness. But the Principal bent down and kissed 
the girl's forehead lightly and tenderly. 

"We shall be friends always now," she 
said, simply. " Don't forget, Peggy ! " 

She was gone, and Peggy took her own 



TEACHER AND PUPIL. 191 

way in the opposite direction, hardly know- 
ing whither she was going. Her heart was 
so full of joy and love and gratitude, it 
seemed as if she must break out into singing 
or shouting. Was ever any one so kind, so 
noble, so lovely? How could any one not 
try to do her very, very best, to deserve 
the care and friendship of such a teacher as 
this? 

Passing as if on wings through the geome- 
try room, she saw a figure crouching over a 
desk, and was aware of Rose Barclay, bent 
over her book, and crying bitterly. Nothing 
could hold Peggy back in that moment of 
exaltation. In an instant she was at the 
girl's side. " Let me help you ! " she cried. 
" Please let me ; I know I can." 

Rose Barclay looked up fiercely. " I asked 
you to help me, once ! " she said. " I am not 
likely to ask again. Go away, please, and let 
me alone." 

" No, I won't ! " said stout Peggy. " You 
never would let me explain, but now you are 
going to let me. I couldn't show you my ex- 
ample, and I wouldn't, and I never will ; but I 



192 PEGGY. 

could make you see how to do your own right, 
and that's what I am going to do now." 

Down she sat without more ado ; took the 
pencil from the unwilling hand, and set to 
work on an imaginary problem. Rose Bar- 
clay sat still for a moment with averted 
face, pride and shame doing their best to 
silence the better voices within her. At 
length she stole a glance at Peggy's face, and 
there beheld such a shining expanse of good- 
will and friendliness that Pride and Co. gave 
up the battle, and retreated into their dens. 
Heaving a long sigh of relief, she bent for- 
ward, and soon was following with all her 
might Peggy's clear and lucid explanation. 

"Why, yes!" said Rose, at last. "Why, 
I do see. Why, I do believe I could do that 
myself." 

" Of course you can ! " said Peggy. " Here, 
take the pencil, and I'll give you one." 

Ste did so, and, after some screwing of the 
mouth and knitting of the brows. Rose actu- 
ally did do it, and felt like Wellington after 
Waterloo. Then, at Peggy's instigation, she 
tackled the actual lesson, and, steered by Pro- 



TEACHER AND PUPIL. 193 

fessor Peggy, went through it triumphantly. 
Then she turned on her instructor. 

" What made you come and help me, Peggy 
Montfort ? I've been perfectly hateful to you, 
you know I have. I wouldn't have helped 
you, if you had acted the way I have." 

" Oh, yes, you would," said Peggy, good- 
naturedly. 

" Why — why, you have been crjdng, too ! " 
said Rose, examining her benefactress more 
closely. " Peggy, you have been crying 
awfully, I know you have." 

" Yes, I have," said Peggy ; " I have cried 
my eyes out, and I never was so happy in my 
life. Come on, and have a game of ball ! " 



CHAPTER XI. 

DECORATION AND OTHER THINGS. 

The Junior Reception was " on." In fact, 
it was to take place this very evening, and an 
air of subdued excitement hung over the 
whole school. All the other classes were 
invited, as well as the Faculty and many 
friends from outside ; it was sure to be a 
delightful occasion. Peggy was fortunate 
enough to be one of the auxiliaries called in 
by the Snowy Owl to help in the decorations, 
and she counted it a high privilege, as indeed 
it was. As a general thing, there is more 
sympathy between juniors and freshmen than 
between any other two classes in school or 
college ; various reasons may be assigned for 
this, but it remains the fact. Besides this, 
however, Peggy felt a very special bond 
with the " Jews," because her dearest friends 



DECOKATION AND OTHER THINGS. 195 

were among them. This had come about 
partly from the accident of her coming late to 
school, and so being put into the junior cor- 
ridor ; but it was still more due to her making 
instant acquaintance, as we have seen, with 
the Fluffy Owl, and through her with the 
beloved and powerful Snowy. These two 
girls, through their wise and gentle ways, 
were a power for good in the whole school, 
and especially in their own class. They were 
queens of the steady and right-minded ma- 
jority, while Grace Wolfe led the wilder and 
less disciplined spirits. The Owls went their 
quiet way, and troubled themselves little, less 
perhaps than they should have done, about 
the doings of the " Gang." They were busy 
with study, with basket-ball, with a hundred 
things ; they could not always know (espe- 
cially when pains were taken that they should 
not know) what tricks the Scapegoat and her 
wild mates were up to. 

Both Owls had a real affection for Peggy, 
and though they knew nothing as yet of the 
recent escapade, they felt that it would be 
well to keep her rather under their wing, the 



196 PEGGY. 

more so that Grace had undoubtedly taken a 
fancy to the child, too. 

" She's too fascinating ! " said the Snowy. 
" We shall have the Innocent falling in love 
with her if we don't look out, and that would 
never do ! " 

" Never ! " said the Fluflfy, shaking her 
head wisely ; but she added, in an undertone, 
" If only the mischief isn't done already ! " 

So the two asked Peggy to help them in 
the work of preparing the gymnasium for the 
great event, and she consented with delight. 
She was making plenty of friends in her own 
class, oh, yes ; especially now that she and 
Rose Barclay had made it up. She was the 
one stay and comfort of poor little Lobelia 
Parkins, and was devotedly kind to that for- 
lorn creature, taking her out to walk almost 
by main force, and presenting to all comers a 
front of such stalwart, not to say pugnacious, 
determination, that no one dared to molest 
the girl when Peggy was with her. Spite of 
all this, however, her heart remained in Cor- 
ridor A, and she would have left the whole 
freshman class in the lurch at one whistle 



DECORATION — AND OTHER THINGS. 197 

from the Owls — or, alas ! from the Scape- 
goat. 

But all this is by the way, and does not 
help us to get up the Junior Reception. 

There had been an early morning expedi- 
tion to the neighbouring woods (not, how- 
ever, through the fire-escape), and Peggy and 
the Owls had returned each with a wheel- 
barrow-load of boughs and ground pine and 
all manner of pleasant woodland things. 
The leaves had turned, and were glowing 
with scarlet and gold and russet. These 
were put in water, lest they should begin to 
curl and wither before night ; while the ever- 
greens were heaped in a comer and left to 
their fate. Now it was afternoon, and the 
girls, released from their tasks, had flown to 
the scene of action. Already the gymnasium 
began to assume a festive appearance. Sev- 
eral garlands were in place, and on the floor 
sat six or eight juniors, busily weaving 
more. Ladders stood here and there. At 
the top of one stood the Snowy Owl, arrang- 
ing a " trophy," as she called it, of brilliant 
leaves, on another, Peggy was valiantly ham- 



198 PEGGY. 

mering, as she arranged in festoons the long 
folds of green and white bunting that the 
Fluffy handed up to her. The Fluffy was a 
curious sight, being swathed in bunting from 
head to foot. When Peggy demanded " more 
slack," she simply turned around a few times 
and unrolled herself, thus presenting the 
appearance of an animated spool. 

"It's effective," said Gertrude, surveying 
her from her perch, " but I can't say that it 
looks comfortable. How ever did you get 
yourself into such a snarl. Fluff ? " 

"Why, I was measuring it, don't you 
know ? " said Bertha, " and it got all into a 
heap on the floor, and there was so much of 
it I didn't know what to do. So I began to 
roll it round and round myself, and the first 
thing I knew I was the cocoon-thing you see 
before you. I feel as if I ought to come out 
a butterfly, somehow." 

" They are lovely colours ! " said Peggy. 
"There's nothing' so pretty as green and 
white. How do you choose your colours? 
We haven't chosen ours yet, but I suppose we 
shall soon." 



DECORATION AND OTHER THINGS. 199 

"The Snowy chose them/' said Bertha. 
" They were Sir Somebody-or-other's colours at 
the Siege of Acre. I wanted scarlet, because 
that was Launcelot's — " 

"Fluffy ! it was nothing of the kind ! " 

"Well, you know what I mean, Snowy; 
don't make a cannibal meal of me. Scarlet 
was Elaine's colour, and Launcelot wore it; 
that was what I meant." 

"I thought — " said Peggy, timidly, "I 
thought she was the Lily Maid; I thought 
she wore white." 

** "Did, herself," said the Snowy, with her 
mouth full of tacks. " But she gave him a 
scarlet sleeve embroidered with pearls, and he 
wore it on his helmet, and that was what 
made Guinevere throw the diamonds into the 



river." 



" Oh ! " said Peggy, meekly. She had 
tried to read the "Idyls of the King," but 
could not make out much except the fighting 
parts. 

" Never understood why tliey had sleeves so 
often," said Bertha, abstractedly bunching the 
green and white draperies. " Never could see 



200 PEGGY. 

how they got the sleeve on the hehnet in any 
kind of shape. What sort of sleeves did they 
have then, anyhow ? Why, they were those 
tight ones, weren't they, with a slashed cap at 
the top ? Well, now. Snowy, that would look 
perfectly absurd on a helmet, you know it 
would." 

The Snowy deigned no reply; or perhaps 
the tacks were in a perilous position at that 
moment. Bertha went on, thoughtfully : 

" A balloon sleeve, now, would be more 
sensible ; you could slip it over the helmet, 
and it would look like — like the shade of ^ 
piano lamp. But somehow, whenever I read 
about it, I see a small, tight, red sleeve, spread 
out like a red flannel bandage, as if the helmet 
had a sore throat — " 

"Fluffy, you are talking absolute non- 
sense ! " said Gertrude, regaining utterance. 
"And after all, they had gloves oftener than 
sleeves ; not that that makes it much better. 
For my part, I always think of a glove with 
all the five fingers sticking up out of the middle 
of the crown, as if they had tried to be feathers 
and been nipped in the bud." 



DECOEATION — AND OTHEK TniNGS. 201 

" Feathers don't bud ! " said Bertha, hand- 
ing up more slack. 

"But the real thing/' Gertrude went on, 
" the beautiful, graceful thing for the knight 
to wear, was the scarf. He could do any- 
thing he liked with that ; tie it around his 
helmet, or across his breast, — that was the 
proper way of course, — or around his waist. 

" A green scarf, that is what I would have ! 
Very soft, so that it would go through a 
finger-ring, and yet wide enough to shake out 
into wonderful folds, you know, so that he could 
wrap himself up in it, and think of me, and — 
what's the matter, Peggy, why do you sigh?" 

"Did I sigh?" said Peggy, looking con- 
fused. " It was nothing, Snowy. I was only 
thinking — thinking how stupid I was, and 
how Margaret would like all the things you 
talk about." 

"Meaning sleeves ? " 

" No, oh, no ! but about knights, and chiv- 
alry, and all that kind of thing. Margaret 
loves it so ! She used to try to read Froissart 
to me, but it always put me to sleep. I sup- 
pose you like Froissart, Gertrude ? " 



202 PEGGY. 

She spoke so wistfully that Gertrude took 
the tacks out of her mouth (she should never 
have put them in; a junior should have 
known better ! )- that she might reply the 
better. 

" Why, Peggy, yes, I do like Froissart, but 
it never troubles me when people don't care 
for my kind of books. You see, there are so 
many kinds, such an endless variety, and 
good in so many different ways. Now you, 
for example, would like the Jungle Books, 
and the ' Cruise of the Cachalot^^ and all kinds 
of books of adventure." 

" I don't know what is adventure if Frois- 
sart isn't," Bertha put in. 

" Yes, but it's all too far away, too remote. 
I know how Peggy feels, because I have a 
cousin who is just that way. She used to 
think she should never read anything at all ; 
then one day she got hold of Kipling, and the 
worlds opened, and the doors thereof. Just 
you come to me for the Jungle Books some 
day, Innocent, and you'll see. Look here, I 
want lots and lots, and again lots more leaves. 
Where are they all? I don't see any more, but 



DECORATION — AND OTHER THINGS. 203 

there must be any quantity. I brought in a 
whole copse, myself." 

" We put them all into the old swimming- 
tank, don't you remember ? <Jh, no ; you went 
in before we had finished this morning. Well, 
they are there. Stay where you are, Snowy, 
and Peggy and I will get a couple of loads." 

The two girls ran down-stairs to the lower 
floor. Part of this was taken up, as we have 
already seen, by dressing-rooms, but it was 
only a small part. The larger space was oc- 
cupied by the great swimming-tank, five feet 
deep, and twenty by thirty feet in area. The 
tank was not used now, but the water was 
still connected, and could be turned on by 
special permission. Now, accordingly, the 
water in the bottom was about two feet deep, 
and the whole surface was a blaze of autumn 
colours, great branches of maple, oak, and ash 
covering it completely. 

" Pretty, isn't it ? " said Bertha. " Like a 
little sunset sea all alone by itself, without 
any sun to set. The next question is, how 
are we to get at them ? " 

" Oh, that's easy enough!" said Peggy. " I 



204 PEGGY. 

can reach them easily from the edge, and I'll 
hand them over to you." 

Suiting the action to the word, she climbed 
up on the broad toarble slab which formed the 
edge of the great tank. 

Then, bending down, she brought up a 
great branch of golden maple, fresh and drip- 
ping. She shook it, and a diamond shower 
fell back on the dark space left vacant ; then 
another branch floated quietly over and filled 
the space again. 

" You'll be wet through ! " said Bertha. " I 
don't suppose you care ? " 

" No, indeed ! I'd rather be wet than not, 
when I'm doing things." 

"I'll remember that," said Bertha, slyly, 
"and come round with a watering-can next 
time you are reciting your rhetoric. Give me 
some red now ; oh, that is a beauty ! There ! 
that's enough for one load ; unless you see 
just one more little one that is superlatively 
beautiful." 

" That is just what I do see ! Hold on a 
minute ! this is such a beauty, you must have 
it, if I — oh!" 



DECORATION AND OTHER THINGS. 205 

Peggy had been leaning as far as she could 
over the broad tank, fishing for the gay 
branch, which floated provokingly just out of 
reach. At last she touched it — grasped it — 
drew it toward her; when all in a moment 
she slipped on the marble, now wet and glossy 
with the falling drops, clutched the air — 
slipped again — and fell headlong into the 
tank, with a mighty splash. 

Bertha shrieked. There was an answering 
shriek from above, and Gertrude, followed by 
all the other girls, came flying down the 
stairs. 

'^ What has happened ? What — where is 
Peggy ? " 

'" In the tank ! " cried Bertha. " Oh ! dear 
me, what shall we do ? Peggy, are you much 
hurt?" 

" No ; I — think not!" spluttered Peggy. "I 
came down on my nose, that's all. Feels as 
if it was broken, but I don't know — no ! It 
doesn't crack when I wiggle it. It's bleeding 
a good deal, though. Perhaps I'd better stay 
in till it stops." 

Bertha tried to climb up to the perch 



206 PEGGY. 

which Peggy had so suddenly left vacant, 
but in vain ; her legs were far too short. 
Gertrude, however, came with a flying leap, 
and scrambled cat-like up the side of the tank. 
Looking down, with the kindest heart in the 
world, and a world of sympathy to fill it, she 
still could not help bursting into a peal of 
laughter. Peggy, sitting in the tank, crowned 
with gold and scarlet leaves, and dripping like 
Undine, was certainly a funny spectacle. 

"Oh, do forgive me for laughing, Peggy 
dear ! " cried Gertrude. " You — you do look 
funny, but I'm dreadfully sorry." 

" Well, I'm laughing myself," said Peggy, 
" I don't see why you shouldn't. But did you 
ever hear of a water-nymph with a nosebleed? 
If I could only get at my pocket — " 

" Here, take mine," and Gertrude dropped 
her handkerchief, which Peggy caught adroitly. 

" My dear," Gertrude went on, " it seems 
so strange to have some one besides me 
falling about and dropping herself. I used 
to be the one, always. They called me 
^Dropsy' at home; and I fell in here last 
year, Peggy, and I know exactly how it 



DECORATION AND OTHER THINGS. 207 

feels. Here ! take my hand and scramble 
out." 

Peggy, still sitting in the water, which 
covered her to the waist, looked about her 
thoughtfully. "It seems a pity, now I am 
here, not to have some good of it," she said, 
philosophically. 

" If it were only a foot deeper, or I weren't 
bothered with all these petticoats, I might 
have a good swim. However, I suppose I 
may as well get out — if I can. Take care, 
Snowy — oh ! take care ! " 

Alas ! for the Snowy Owl ! After all, she 
was still Gertrude Merryweather. The marble 
was wet — she bent down to take Peggy's 
hand — there was another tremendous splash, 
and two Undines sat in the tank, gazing 
speechless on each other. This was too much 
for the composure of any one. Both Peggy 
and Gertrude sat helpless, shaking with 
laughter, and absolutely unable to move. 
Bertha, outside, fairly went into hysterics, 
and laughed and screamed in one breath; 
while the other girls raised such a clamour of 
mingled mirth and terror that Emily Cort- 



208 PEGGY. 

landt, who had just come in to take a look at 
the decorations, came running down-stairs, 
dreading she knew not what. 

One look over the edge of the tank, and 
Miss Cortlandt was not so very much better 
than the rest of them ; but she recovered her- 
self sooner. Wiping her eyes, she proceeded 
at once to the business of rescuing the two 
involuntary divers. It proved impossible for 
them to climb up, the sides being too slippery, 
and the flying leap being out of the question 
in two feet of water. She brought a short 
ladder, and in another moment first one 
nymph and then the other came up from 
their fountain, and dripped little rivers on the 
floor. 

"Is either of you hurt?" asked Miss 
Cortlandt. 

" Not I ! " said Gertrude, ruefully. " I feU 
on top of poor Peggy, and she makes a per- 
fect cushion. How are you, Peggy ? Did I 
half kill you ? " 

" Not a bit ! I think perhaps IVe sprained 
my wrist a little, but that was when I went 
in myself. No, I'm all right; truly I am, 



DECORATION — AND OTHER THINGS. 209 

Miss Cortlandt. I'll just go and change my 
clothes, and then come back and finish." 

Emily Cortlandt did not come of amphibious 
stock. " You will do nothing of the kind ! " 
she said. " You ought to go to bed, Peggy, 
and Gertrude, too ; but I suppose you would 
think that a terrible piece of injustice." 

" Yes, Miss Cortlandt, we should ! " replied 
both girls, in a breath. 

"And I know that you have both been 
brought up more or less like whales ; so I'll 
let you off with camphor pills and peppermint 
drops. Those you Tniist have. Run along 
and change everything — everything, mind ! — 
and I'll come around in five minutes and dose 
you. Run, now ; make it a race, and I'll add 
hot lemonade to the stakes, — first prize and 
booby prize ! " 

"Yes, Miss Cortlandt," cried the two Un- 
dines ; and off they set in a shower of spray, 
with the other girls at their heels. 



CHAPTER XII. 



AN ADVENTURE. 



It aU came from Peggy's forgetting her 
handkerchief. That was nothing remarkable. 
Rapidly though our heroine was developing, 
there was still plenty of the old Peggy left ; 
and when she looked up at Miss Russell with 
a certain imploring gaze, the Principal was 
apt to say, without waiting for anything 
further : " Yes, Peggy, you may ; but do try 
to remember it next time ! " 

But this time it was well that Peggy had 
not remembered it. She stumbled across the 
long dining-room quite in her own way, stub- 
bing her toe against a sophomore's chair, and 
sending the sophomore's spoon clattering to 
the ground. Stooping, in confusion, to pick 
it up, with muttered apologies, she encountered 
the sophomore's head bent down for the same 



210 



AN ADVENTURE. 211 

purpose, and some mutual star-gazing ensued. 
Finally she did manage to get out of the room, 
after cannoning against the door and taking 
most of the skin off her nose, and made her 
way up-stairs ruefully, rubbing the places that 
hurt most, and wondering where in her anat- 
omy lay the " clumsy bone " that her father 
always talked about. " And it isn't there all 
the time ! " said poor Peggy. " Sometimes I 
don't fall into anything for days, and then, all 
at once, it's like this ! " 

Shaking her head dolefully, she reached her 
own room, got the handkerchief, remembered 
with a great effort to shut the drawer, and 
came out into the corridor again — to come 
face to face with a man emerging from the 
opposite room. 

The opposite room was Vanity Fair ; and the 
man's hands were full of trinkets and knick- 
knacks, and his pockets bulged in a suspicious 
way. He cast a wild glance over Peggy's 
shoulder at the open door of her room and the 
fire-escape beyond ; evidently he had entered 
by that way, and counted on the dinner-hour's 
keeping every one below stairs till he got safe 



212 PEGGY. 

away. Now, however, baffled in this, he 
turned down the corridor with some degree of 
composure. 

" Stop ! " said Peggy. "Who are you, and 
what are you doing here ? " 

"I'm the plumber, miss," said the man, 
still walking away. 

" Put down those things ! " cried Peggy. 
" Do you hear ? or I'll call the police ! " 

Apparently the man did not hear, or else 
did not fancy the idea suggested to him, for 
he began to run down the long corridor as fast 
as he could go. 

So it came ta pass that the school, waiting 
peacefully for its pudding, heard a sound of 
hasty feet scurrying down the stairs. Then, 
all in a rush, came past the door the flying 
figure of a man, with Peggy Montfort in hot 
pursuit. 

"Stop thief!" Peggy shouted it once, and 
then prudently saved her breath. The man 
fumbled for an instant at the front door, 
gave it up, darted into Miss Russell's study. 
Crash went a window ; he was out, with 
Peggy at his heels, and away across the lawn. 



AN ADVENTURE. 213 

" Stop thief ! " the cry rang through the 
school ; and, lo ! in the twinkling of an eye 
there was no school there. The long dining- 
room was emptied as if by magic ; the front 
door flew open, and out streamed the seventy 
maidens, all crying " Stop thief ! " all run- 
ning their very best to come up with the 
flying pair. 

There were some good runners at Pentland 
School; but after the first few minutes of 
running together, jostling and pushing, two 
girls drew rapidly away from the rest, and 
soon left them far behind. Gertrude Merry- 
weather and Grace Wolfe had long been 
friendly rivals in what they called the royal 
sport of running. Perhaps neither of them 
was sorry of this opportunity for a "good 
spurt." Certainly it was a pretty sight, the 
two tall, graceful creatures, lithe and long- 
limbed as young greyhounds, speeding over 
the ground, their arms held close at their 
sides, their eyes flashing, youth and strength 
seeming to radiate from them as they ran. 
Now one drew ahead a little, now the other ; 
but for the most part they kept side by side. 



214 PEGGY. 

for both were running their best, not only for 
the joy and honour of the thing, but because 
it was necessary to arrive, to help Peggy and 
catch the thief. 

The thief was evidently not a trained ath- 
lete, but he was doing his best. He had cut 
himself a good deal in smashing the window, 
and had thrown away part of his booty, hop- 
ing that his relentless pursuer might be con- 
tent, and might stop to pick up the brooches 
and belt-buckles that lay at her feet; but 
Peggy never looked at them, and held on 
straight after him, gaining, undoubtedly gain- 
ing. The man doubled back across the lawn, 
hoping to reach the gate and safety ; but Peggy 
headed him off as quietly and coolly as if he 
were an unruly steer in the home stock-yard. 
Again he doubled, and again the girl was 
running in a diagonal to cut off his approach 
to the wished-f or retreat. But now he caught 
sight of the two tall avengers bearing down 
upon him, and the school in full cry behind. 
He made a desperate spurt and reached the 
gate; it was half open, and as he rushed 
through he slammed it behind him with a 



AN ADVENTURE. 215 

hoarse shout of defiance. But much Peggy 
cared for gates ! She was over in an instant, 
and at his heels again. And realising this, 
the rascal suddenly changed his tactics. He 
stopped short, and, turning on Peggy a villain- 
ous face, bade her with an oath, " Come on, 
and see what she would get for it ! " 

The words had not left his lips, when a 
ludicrous change came over the man's face. 
He uttered a wild yell, and fell headlong, 
almost at Peggy's feet. When Peggy saw this, 
she knew what to do ; and when Grace and 
Gertrude came flying up a moment after, they 
found her sitting quietly on the rascal's head, 
and telling Colney Hatch to go for the police. 

Colney had been watching the evolutions 
of a new and extremely interesting spider. 
The spider had made her web in the hedge 
beside the road ; and Colney, as soon as morn- 
ing recitations were over, had hastened thither, 
and sat down under the hedge to watch, 
undisturbed by thoughts of dinner or of any 
other known thing. So watching, it came to 
pass that she heard the sound of rushing feet 
so close that it actually did disturb her ; and 



216 PEGGY. 

looked up to see an extremely ill-looking fel- 
low in full flight, hotly pursued by Peggy 
Montfort. When he turned to bay, it was 
within a foot of the spot where Colney sat 
under the hedge; and without more ado 
Colney stretched put her long, lean hand, and, 
grabbing the fellow by the ankles, "tripped 
up his heels, and he fell on his nose." 

Presently up came the school, panting and 
breathless; with them Miss Cortlandt, who 
had been saying to herself that if she ever let 
herself get out of practice in running again 
she would know the reason why. Finally, 
up came William the chore-man from one 
direction (for Miss Russell had gone straight 
to the kitchen and given the alarm there), 
and the next-door neighbour from the other ; 
whereupon Constable Peggy got up from her 
uneasy seat, and handed over her prize to the 
tender mercies of his own sex. 

" Git up, ye varmint ! " said William, stir- 
ring the prostrate figure with his foot. " Git 
up, and say what yeVe got to say for yerself ." 

The man got up, bewildered, and shaking 
his head as if he expected it to come off. 



AN ADVENTURE. 217 

'' She 'most killed me! " he sptuttered. " I 
ain't got no breath left in my body." 

" Small loss if ye hain't! " retorted William. 
" What's he ben doin', gals ? " William never 
would sa,y "young ladies," which distressed 
Miss Russell ; but he was so valuable, as she 
said. 

" Stealing ! " said Peggy, briefly. " I met 
him coming out of one of the rooms." 

" I snum ! " said William. " You're a nice 
kind o' harmonium, ben't ye? Tu'n out yer 
pockets ! " 

" She sot down on my head ! " muttered 
the man. "Somethin' come up out o' the 
ground at me and knocked me down, and 
then she sot down on my head. I'm 'most 
killed, I tell ye ! " 

"Well, who cares if ye be?" replied 
William, with some irritation. "It's a pity 
she didn't finish the job, that's all I've got to 
say. Tu'n out yer pockets, will ye ? " 

The man obeyed unwillingly, still muttering ; 
and out came a mass of lockets, pins, and chains, 
enough, in spite of those he had thrown away, 
to furnish half the girls in the school. 



218 PEGGY. 

After searching to see the surrender was 
complete, William adjured the next-door 
neighbour, a stout and silent person named 
Simpson, who had been standing by, to 
"take t'other arm, and we'll walk him 
down to the lock-up jest as easy ! ". The 
thief begged and prayed, and, finding that 
useless, took to cursing and swearing ; where- 
upon William and Mr. Simpson marched 
him off in short order, and all three dis- 
appeared around the turn leading to the High 
Street. 

The school was left standing in the road, 
still panting with haste and excitement. 
They had been silent during William's col- 
loquy with the man, but now the strings of 
their tongues were loosened, and the flood 
of speech broke loose. 

" My dear ! " 

" My dear ! I never was so excited in my 
life, were you ? " 

" Where did he come from ? " 

"Who saw him first?" 

" Why, Peggy Montf ort, of course ! Didn't 
you see her?" 



AN ADVENTURE. 219 



"No; I just ran, because every one else 



^ 99 

was — 



" Perfectly distracted ! I never heard of 
such a thing." 

" He was in the closet — " 

" No ; he was on the stairs — " 

" Just getting out of the window — " 

" With just her bare hands, I tell you. Just 
took a — " 

"Pair of earrings, nothing else in the 
world." 

"But who was he — where did he come 
from? What does Peggy say about it?" 

" Girls ! girls ! " cried Miss Cortlandt. " Will 
you please be silent for a moment ? Peggy 
has not had a chance to say a word yet, 
and I for one want to hear her story. 
Have you got your breath yet, Peggy? 
because we all want to hear, very much 
indeed." 

" There isn't much to tell," said Peggy, 
blushing. "I went up to get my handker- 
chief, — I had forgotten it, — and as I was 
coming out of my room, this fellow was just 
coming out of the other room." 



220 PEGGY. 

" What other room ? Whose was it ? " cried 
a dozen voices. 

" Why, Van — I mean No. 17, Miss Vincent 
and Miss Varnham's room." 

" Oh ! oh ! " a shrill scream was heard ; 
and Viola Vincent pushed her way through 
the crowd of girls, and threw herself upon 
Peggy. 

"My Veezy-vee!" she cried. "It was my 
room ! V., do you hear ? It was our room 
that horrid wretch was robbing. My dear, if 
we had been there we should have been mur- 
dered in our beds, I know we should. Peggy 
Montfort has saved our lives. Isn't it per- 
fectly awful ? " 

" That she should have saved your lives ? " 
asked the Snowy Owl, laughing. " Come to 
your senses. Vanity, and don't strangle Peggy. 
She's black in the face, and I shall have to 
set about saving her life if you don't let her 

go." 

Released from Viola's embrace, Peggy 

gasped, and shook herself like a Newfound- 
land puppy. 

" Don't be ridiculous. Vanity ! " she said, 



AN ADVENTURE. 221 

looking at once pleased and shamefaced. " It 
wasn't anything, of course ; it was just what 
any one else would have done. But do look 
out for your things ! They are scattered all 
about the lawn ; he threw away a lot of them 
when he first came out, and we shall be step- 
ping on them if we don't take care. Oh ! oh, 
please don't say anything more about it. It 
was just the merest chance I happened to go 
up." This was to Vivia Varnham, who, 
trying to overcome her ungraciousness, was 
expressing her gratitude for what Peggy had 
done. It was evidently an effort and was not 
pleasant for either girl. 

The girls scattered over the lawn, pick- 
ing up here a hairpin, there a brooch or 
buckle. It really seemed as if Vanity Fair 
was stocked like a jeweller's shop. Gertrude 
Merryweather, standing by Peggy, uttered an 
exclamation. " My dear ! Peggy ! Why, you 
are all over blood ! You are bleeding now. 
What — where — oh ! oh. Fluffy, look here ! " 
Bertha came running, as Gertrude lifted Peg- 
gy's arm, which was indeed dripping blood. 
Both girls exclaimed in horror, and Bertha 



222 PEGGY. 

turned quite white; but Peggy looked at it 
coolly. 

" Oh ! " she said. " That must be where I 
went through the window after him." 

"The window?" 

" Yes, didn't you hear the crash ? He 
smashed the window in Miss Russell's study 
and got out, and I followed him, of course. 
It isn't anything. Why, I didn't feel it till 
you spoke." 

" That is excitement ! " said ' the Snowy 
Owl. " You must come in and be bandaged 
this minute, Peggy ! Come right along to 
the Nest ; I have bandages and lint all 
ready." 

The Snowy Owl was all on fire with ardour 
arid sympathy. Peggy looked at her in sur- 
prise, but the Fluffy Owl laughed. " You 
have struck the Snowy's hobby," she said. 
" She is going to study medicine, you know. 
Go along ; she will be happy all the rest of 
the day, bandaging and cosseting you." 

" But it doesn't hurt ! " said Peggy, still 
wondering. 

" Never mind ! " said the Snowy Owl. " It 



AN ADVENTURE. 223 

ought to hurt, Peggy Montfort, and it will 
hurt in a little while. Come along and be 
bandaged ! " and, meekly wondering, Peggy 
went. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

PEGGY VICTRIX ! 

" Well, it certainly was a great success ! " 
said the Scapegoat. It was the day after the 
reception, and she had drifted into the Owls' 
Nest toward twilight, and now stood by the 
mantelpiece, swajdng backward and forward 
in the light, wind-blown way she had. 

" A great success ! " she repeated, thought- 
fully. ^^Whyj it was actually pleasant! 
How did you manage it ? " 

" We didn't manage it," said honest Bertha. 
" It just came so. Everybody was ready to 
have a good time, and had it ; that was all." 

"More than that!" said Grace, absent- 
mindedly. "There has to be a knack, or 
something, and you have it. I haven't. I 
couldn't do it, even if I wanted to, and I don't 
think I do." 

224 



PEGGY VICTRIX! 225 

" Do what ? " said the Snowy. 

" Be an Owl ! " said Grace. Suddenly she 
left her hold of the shelf, and turned upon 
them almost fiercely. 

" Why should I ? " she exclaimed. " Tell 
me that, will you ? It is all natural to you. 
Your blood flows quietly, and you like quiet, 
orderly ways, and never want to throw things 
about, or smash a window. I tell you I have 
to, sometimes. Look here ! " 

She caught up a vase from the shelf, and 
seemed on the point of flinging it through the 
closed window, but Gertrude laid her hand 
on her arm firmly. " You may have a right 
to throw your own things, my dear," she said, 
good-naturedly. " You have no possible right 
to throw mine, and ' with all respect, I do 
object ! ' " 

Grace gave a short laugh, and set the vase 
down again ; but she still looked f rowningly 
at the two girls, and presently she went on. 

" It's all very well for you, I tell you. 
You have a home, and a — my mother died 
when I was five years old. My father — " 

" Grace, dear," said Gertrude ; " come and 



226 PEGM^^Y. 

sit down here by me, and tell me about your 
mother. I have seen her picture ; she must 
have been lovely." 

But Grace shook her head fiercely. 

" My father is an actor, and I want to be 
one, too, but he promised my mother before 
she died — she didn't want me to be one. 
What do I care about all this stuff we are 
learning here ? I tell you I want to take a 
tambourine and go on the road with a hand- 
organ man. That would be life ! I would, 
too, if I only had the luck to have hair and 
eyes like yours. Fluffy." 

" You could wear a wig, of course," said 
Bertha, soberly. " The eyes would be a diffi- 
culty, though, I'm afraid." 

" Well, I am here now ! and I'm supposed 
to stay another year, and then go to college. 
Four — five years more of bondage, and tasks, 
and lectures on good behaviour ! Am I likely 
to stand it, I ask you ? " 

" I hope so ! " said Gertrude, steadily. " It 
would be a thousand pities if you didn't, 
Grace, and you know it as well as I do." 

" And if I do, it must be in my own way ! " 



PEGGY VICTRIX! 227 

cried the wild girl, swinging round again on 
her heel. " And if I can make things more 
endurable here — if I can get rid of — it must 
be in my own way, I tell you. Snowy, you 
are like your name, I suppose. You are 
white and gold and calm, — I don't know 
what you are, except that we are not of the 
same flesh. I tell you, I turn to fire inside ! 
I must break out, I must go off when the fit 
comes on me. I do no harm ! It doesn't hurt 
anybody for me to go down the wall and cool 
myself with a run in the fields. Why can't I 
be let alone ? I am not a child ! I tell you it 
is the way I am made ! " 

The Snowy Owl rose, and, going to the fire- 
place, laid her arm around Grace's shoulder. 

" You are making yourself ! " she said. 
" It's your own life, Wolf ; are you making it 
worse or better ? " 

" I'm not doing either. I am taking it as 
it comes, as it was meant to come." 

Gertrude shook her head quietly. 

" That can't be ! " she said. " That is im- 
possible. Wolf. We have to be growing one 
way or the other ; we can't stay as we are, 



228 PEGGY. 

for a year or a day. And there's another 
thing: you don't seem to think about the 
others, about the effect on the school. If. you 
are to break the laws, why should not every 
one do the same ? " 

" Because they are different ! " said Grace, 
sullenly. 

" You don't know that ! They may have the 
same temptations, and be stronger than you 
to resist them. You ought to be a strong 
girl, Grace, and, instead of that, you are weak 
— as weak as water." 

" Weak ? I ! " cried Grace, her eyes blazing. 
" If any one else had said that to me, Gertrude 
Merry weather, I would — " 

" But no one else would say it to you ! " 
said Gertrude. " Because no one else — ex- 
cept Miss Russell — cares as much as I do — 
Fluffy and I. We love you too much, Grace, 
to flatter you and follow you, as most of them 
do. I tell you, and you may take it as simple 
truth, for it is nothing else, that which you 
think strength is simply weakness, — lament- 
able weakness. And as for your influence on 
the other girls — just listen a moment ! " 



PEGGY VICTRIX! 229 

Taking up a little book from the table, she 
opened it — indeed it seemed to open of its 
own accord at the place — r and read : 

" ' Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown 
Of thee from the hill-top looking down ; 
The heifer that lows in the upland farm, 
Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm ; 
The sexton, tolling his bell at noon. 
Deems not that great Napoleon 
Stops his horse, and lists with delight, 
Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height ; 
Nor knowest thou what argument 
Thy life to thy neighbour's creed hath lent. 
All are needed by each one ; 
Nothing is fair or good alone. ' " 

There was silence when she finished read- 
ing. Then — " What is that ? " asked Grace, 
stretching out her hand. " Give it to me ! " 

"Emerson. Take him home with you, 
and let him talk to you ; he speaks well." 

Grace took the book, looked it over, and 
dropped it into her pocket. For a moment 
she leaned her head against Gertrude's arm, 
and a sigh broke from her involuntarily. 
Then, all in a moment, a change came. Her 



230 PEGGY. 

face lightened in an indescribable way, and 
her eyebrows lifted with a look that both 
girls knew well. 

" And have you heard the news?" she said. 
" There is a rumour that my Puggy leaves me 
at the end of the term. How to exist, I ask 
you, without her ? Othello's occupation would 
be gone indeed." 

" No ! is it true ? Why is she going ? What 
does it mean ? " 

Grace shrugged her shoulders with an elfish 
gesture. 

" How should I know ? It appears she sees 
ghosts. A ghost must be hard up, one would 
think, to visit my Puggy ; there ought to be 
an asylum for impoverished spectres. Would 
you subscribe for it, Owls ? Good-bye ! I must 
go. You mean well, and I don't bear malice. 
Oh ! by the by, — " she came back for an 
instant, and stood balancing herself on one 
foot and looking round the edge of the door, 
and she certainly looked hardly human, — "I 
forgot the thing I came for. Stand by the 
Innocent this evening, will you, if she should 
get into trouble ? I am sent for to the study, 



PEGGY VICTRIX! 231 

and shall be in for a good hour's lecture, and 
then bed. " 

" What do you mean, Goat ? What is it ? " 
asked both girls, anxiously. But the Goat 
was gone. 

Peggy was enjoying herself extremely. She 
had learned all her lessons, for a wonder, and 
now she had curled herself up in a corner 
with the " Jungle Book," and the rest of the 
world was forgotten. There was nobody, 
there never had been anybody, but Mowgli 
and the Wolves. She had hunted with them, 
she had slain Shere-Khan, she had talked 
with Baloo and Bagheera. Her outdoor na- 
ture had responded in every fibre to the call 
of the Master of Magic, and he filled her with 
joy and wonder. As the Snowy had said, the 
worlds were opening, and the doors thereof. 

Things being thus with her, she hardly 
heard her own door open softly. Before she 
had torn her eyes from the enchanted page, 
the room was filled with silent, flitting fig- 
ures — as it had been often filled before. The 
girls nodded to her with silent laughter and 



232 PEGGY. 

friendly gestures. In another moment they 
would have been at the window ; but Peggy 
was not dreaming now. In an instant she had 
sprung from her corner among the cushions, 
and stood before the window, with arms out- 
spread. " No ! " she said. 

The girls recoiled, paused, in amazement. 
There were six of them : the two V's, Blanche 
Haight, and three other sophomores. Peggy 
saw with a throb of joy that Grace Wolfe was 
not among them. That would have made it 
harder. 

"What does this mean?" asked Vivia 
Varnham, with her cold smile. "You have 
never made any trouble before, Peggy ; isn't 
it rather late in the day ? " 

" Oh, she's only in fun ! " cried Viola Vin- 
cent. " Aren't you, Veezy-vee ? Why, she's 
acting, girls, and she does it elegantly. It's 
perf'ly fine, Veezy-vee. I didn't know you 
had it in you." 

" No, I am not acting," said Peggy, quietly. 
"I am sorry, girls, but you can't go out. 
You never can go out again, so long as I am 
here." 



PEGGY VICTRIX ! 233 

" Upon my word ! " cried Blanche Haight, 
who had not spoken yet. " This seems to be 
a pretty state of things. Perhaps you are not 
aware, Miss Montf ort, that this exit was used, 
long before you came to adorn the school with 
your presence. We acknowledge no right 
of yours to forbid us the use of it. Stand 
out of the way, please." 

For all reply, Peggy backed against the 
window ; her face assumed an expression with 
which her family was acquainted. 

"When Peggy looks dour," Jean used to 
say, " look out for rising winds and a falling 
barometer ! " 

Then Viola came forward, and began to 
plead, in her pretty, wheedling way. 

" Let us go, just this once ; that's a dear, 
good Veezy. I know what has happened; 
Miss Russell has found out, hasn't she?" 

Peggy nodded. 

" And she has spoken to you, and of course 
I know just how you feel. But you see, 
Peggy, we have an appointment this time, 
truly we have, with some college girls, and 
you wouldn't make us break it, would you, 



234 PEGGY. 

Veezy ? Of course you don't want us to go, 
and we won't again, — at least most probably 
we won't, if it is going to get you into trouble. 
But we really have to go this time, Peggy, 
dear, so do be nice and sweet, and let us 
pass." 

" No," said Peggy. " I'm sorry, Viola, but 
it's no use. Nothing you can say will make 
any difference." 

" Possibly not ! " said Blanche Haight ; she 
pushed Viola aside without ceremony, and 
came close to Peggy. 

" Possibly nothing we can say will make a 
difference. Miss Montfort, but something we 
can do may make a good deal. I ask you, 
fair and square, will you come away from 
that window ? We are six to one, and I give 
you the chance of settling this in a quiet and 
friendly way. Will you come away from that 
window?" 

" No," said Peggy, " I will not. Is that 
square enough ? " 

" Then, girls," said Blanche, turning to her 
followers, "we must help ourselves. We 
shall see whether one freshman is going to 



PEGGY VICTRIX! 235 

block the way of the Gang ! You take one 
arm, Viola, and I'll take the other." 

" Oh, don't hurt her ! " cried Viola. " Don't 
hurt her, Blanche. I'm awfully fond of 
Peggy. I know she only means to do what 
she thinks she ought to. Peggy, do give up ! 
You are all alone, and there are six of us. 
Do give up, Peggy ; for my sake, Peggy ! 
I — I'll give you my gold bangle, the one with 
the locket, if you'll only give up, Peggy ! " 

Peggy smiled, and said nothing. She could 
not be angry with the little butterfly, but 
there was no use in wasting breath; she 
might need all she had. 

Blanche Haight seized one arm, Vivia Varn- 
ham the other, and tried to drag her away 
from the window by main force. With her 
favourite Newfoundland-dog motion, Peggy 
shook them off, planted a quick blow here, an- 
other there, and her assailants staggered back 
for a moment. In another instant, however, 
they returned to the attack, and this time the 
other sophomores joined, and all five threw 
themselves on Peggy. Once more she shook 
them off, but they closed in again, and a 



236 PEGGY. 

struggle began, all the more fierce that no word 
was spoken, no cry uttered. No cry, that is, 
by the combatants. When the five set upon 
Peggy, Viola ran in and made an effort to 
pull them off, with piteous entreaties. But 
no one paid the smallest heed to her, and the 
poor little butterfly, frightened and distressed, 
burst into tears, and ran away. 

At the same moment, any one who had 
been listening in quiet might have heard a 
singular sound that seemed to come from 
above, from outside — no one could tell from 
where ; the cry of an owl, followed by a long, 
low howl. Three times this was repeated ; 
and many a junior, studying under her 
lamp, looked up and said, '^What is up 
now, I wonder?" for the sound recalled 
freshman days, before the Lone Wolf and 
the two OvAs had come to the parting of the 
ways. 

Three minutes later, two figures, speeding 
silently along Corridor A, were met at a turn 
by a third, which flung itself sobbing upon 
them. 

^^ Oh, Snowy, oh, Fluffy, they are killing 



ift. 



PEGGY VICTRIX! 237 

Peggy Montf ort ! I was coining to call you — 
oh, be quick ! be quick ! " 

Without stopping, somehow the Snowy 
Owl managed to open a door and thrust 
Viola in. It was to be noticed that neither 
girl looked at her. They ran on, swift and 
silent. 

Indeed, it was time ! Peggy's lip was bleed- 
ing, where Vivia Varnham's head had struck 
against it as she fell, tripped by a pretty trick 
that was learned on the Western farm. Her 
hair was dragged down and hung in her eyes, 
her dress was torn in a dozen places. 
With one of her sudden movements she had 
thrown off her assailants, and stood for an 
instant alone, looking the very Spirit of Bat- 
tle, with blazing eyes and scarlet cheeks. 
Blanche Haight* rushed at her again, and this 
time Peggy seized her around the waist in a 
deadly grip. The others closed in once more, 
furious, determined this time to finish with 
the insolent freshman. It was like to go 
hard with Peggy Montf ort this time. 

What happened ? A flash, the glance of an 
eye, and all was changed. The assailants fell 



238 PEGGY. 

back, staggering across the room, gasping and 
staring ; and the Snowy and the Fluflfy Owl 
were standing shoulder to shoulder with 
Peggy, one on either side, with stem and 
angry looks. 

For a moment there was dead silence, save 
for the hard breathing as Blanche Haight 
tried to wriggle out of the iron grasp that 
held her — in vain ! Then Grertrude Merry- 
weather spoke. 

"Miss Varnham, Miss Floyd, Miss John- 
son, Miss White, Miss — who is this? — Miss 
Haight. Found out of bounds and out of 
hours, making a disturbance in the rooms. 
To be reported to the Principal. Go to your 
rooms, if you please ! " 

Was this the Snowy Owl, gentle and 
friendly, beloved of all ? No ! it was the 
Junior President and the Monitor of Corridor 
A. She might have been an avenging angel 
as she stood there, tall and white and severe. 

Her face softened as she bent over Peggy. 
" You can let her go now ! " she said. " We 
are here, Peggy, Bertha and I. It is all 
right ! Let her go, child ! " 



PEGGY VICTRIX! 239 

Slowly and reluctantly Peggy loosed her 
hold, and Blanche, half-fainting, dropped 
upon the bed. She looked with feeble venom 
at the two rescuers. 

" Spying, eh ? '* she whispered. " Very 
dignified, I'm sure, for a president. That lit- 
tle sneak Viola Vincent was here too, mind ! 
Put her down in your precious report." 

" I don't see Miss Vincent here ! " said 
Gertrude, coldly. " Go to your rooms, if you 
please ! I think I understand the case thor- 
oughly, Blanche, thank you. Will you go, or 
shall we help you ? " 

But Blanche preferred to go unaided. 
Silent as they had come, they slunk away, 
flitting like shadows along the corridor. And 
when they were gone, the two Owls sat down 
on the bed and took Peggy between them, 
and rocked, and petted, and soothed her ; for 
lo ! the Goddess of Battle was crying like a 
three years' child. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



ON SPY HILL. 



Things were quietly managed at Pentland 
School ; there was never any outcry, any open 
flurry of excitement and gossip. Many of the 
scholars never knew why five girls left school 
in the middle of the term. The seniors who 
did know shrugged their shoulders, and said 
it was a pity to have such things take the 
girls* minds off their parts — looking at 
everything from the point of view of Senior 
Dramatics. The juniors looked pretty sober 
for a week, even the sophomore spirits were 
dashed for the time. But nothing was said 
openly, and after awhile the scared whis- 
perings died away, and work and play went 
on as usual. Poor little Viola Vincent 
mourned deeply the loss of her mate. She 
herself had escaped with a severe reprimand, 



240 



ON SPY HILL. 241 

having gone to Miss Russell to plead Vivia's 
cause, and confessing frankly her own share 
in the escapade. Vivia was anything but an 
agreeable girl ; but she and Viola had grown 
up together, next-door neighbours and com- 
panions from their cradles, and Viola was lost 
without her. She threw herself upon Peggy 
for consolation, and Peggy found herself in 
the curious position of protecting and com- 
forting a junior, and a girl two years older 
than herself. Viola would come in, and, curl- 
ing herself up in the corner of Peggy's divan, 
declare that she had come for a good cry. 
A few sniffs would follow, and then perhaps 
actual tears, but more likely a river of speech. 
" It's no use, Peggy ! I cannot live ! I 
simply can not live on in this way. I know 
V. was horrid to you — yes, she was ! Oh, I 
am not blind, you know, if I am a goose ! She 
was horrid to most of the girls, I know she 
was, but she was good to me, generally, and 
it didn't matter much if she wasn't. I was 
used to her little ways, and I didn't mind. 
And I have always had her, you see, all my 
life, and I don't — see — how I can get along 



242 PEGGY. 

without her. I wanted to be expelled, too! 
Yes, I did ! that was why I told Miss Russell 
about my being there and all ; I thought she 
would be sure to send me away, too. I think 
it was very unjust of her not to, I'm sure.'' 

"Viola, don't talk so! You had nothing 
to do with the — the attack, or any violence. 
You would have gone away quietly when I 
said you could not use the window; you 
know you would." 

" How do you know I would have ? I might 
have torn you limb from limb, Peggy, for all 
you can say. What are you laughing at ? " 

For this statement, coming from a small 
person with a grasp about as powerful as that 
of a week-old kitten, was too much for the 
stalwart Peggy's composure. 

" You don't know what I am when I am 
roused ! " Viola went on. " I'm awful, simply 
awful ! " And she opened her blue eyes wide, 
and looked like a tragic baby. 

" But — my ! Peggy, how you did look that 
night ! I wonder this whole room didn't turn 
blue with fright. I was frightened almost to 
death ; I wonder I'm alive to-day. Well, 



ON SPY HILL. 243 

wasn't it too perf'ly awful for anything, the 
whole thing ? " 

"It was pretty bad!" Peggy assented. 
" But it's all over now, Viola ; I would try 
not to dwell on it too much, if I were you. 
Of course I know how you must miss Vivia, 
and I'm dreadfully sorry about it all. But 
just think how dear the Owls have been to 
both of us." 

"Haven't they?" cried Viola, drying her 
tears, her eyes brightening. "Aren't they 
too perfectly lovely for anything, the Owls ? 
I think the Snowy is just the sweetest thing 
that ever lived in this world, don't you ? '* 

" I think she's one of them," said honest 
Peggy. "But I'm just as fond of Bertha. 
She was my first friend here, my very first." 

" Oh, how funny you were that first day, 
Peggy ! " cried Viola, laughing now, her sor- 
rows forgotten for the time. "You were 
too killing ! I thought I should have died, 
when you went tumbling all over yourself. 
You were killing, weren't you, now ? " 

" You seem to have survived ! " said 
Peggy, good-naturedly. It was not pleasant 



244 PEGGY. 

to be laughed at, but no one ever minded 
Viola. 

" Where are you going ? " demanded Viola, 
as Peggy got out her " Tam " and pinned it 
on with a resolute air. " Peggy, you are not 
going out, just when I have come to see you ? 
I was so lonely, and I wanted some one to 
talk to ; and now the minute I come, you get 
up and go away. I must say I don't think 
you are very polite." And Viola pouted and 
looked like a child of six instead of a girl of 
sixteen. 

" Viola ! " said Peggy. " You have been 
here an hour and a half, do you know it ? and 
I must have a walk; I haven't been outside 
the door this afternoon. Put on your Tam 
and come along with me ! You'd' feel ever so 
much better if you would take more exer- 
cise. 

" Oh, no, I shouldn't ! and I cannot see 
what you want to be walk, walking, all the 
everlasting time for, Peggy Montfort. What's 
the use of it ? " 

"The use?" cried Peggy, with sparkling 
eyes. " Why, there's all the use in the world. 



ON SPY HILL. 245 

In the first place, it makes you strong and 
healthy, and keeps you well." 

" Oh ! but gym does that ! We have to do 

w 

gym, and I don't mind that ; in fact it's rather 
fun, only it spoils your figure dreadfully." 

" But gym isn't enough, if you don't take 
any other exercise," said Peggy. " And be- 
sides, v., just think of the joy of walking and 
running. Why, you see all the things grow- 
ing, and breathe the air, and — and — hear the 
birds, and the water, and — well, I shouldn't 
want to live if I couldn't walk, that's all. 
Come along, and you'll see ! " 

" Oh, I can't, I'm too tired." 

" You are tired, because you have been 
sitting in the house all day. And you are 
pale, and — " 

" No ! am I ? " cried Viola, running to the 
glass. " I'm so glad ! I just love to be pale, 
it's so interesting. It makes my eyes look 
larger, too, doesn't it, Peggy ? They do look 
very large to-day, don't they, Peggy ? " 

Peggy sighed. "You do discourage me, 
Viola!" she said. "Well, good-bye. I must 
go. The others are waiting for me." 



246 PEGGY. 

" What others ? Who else is going ? What 
are you going to do ? " 

" Why, I told you! We are going to walk." 

" Yes, but what for ? Are you going to the 
shops, or going to see somebody ? I can't see 
any sense in just stupid walking, without any 
object. And you didn't tell me who was 
going." 

" You didn't give me a chance. Well, 
Rose Barclay is going, and two other fresh- 
men whom I don't think you know, Clara 
Fair and Ethel Bird — and Lobelia Parkins." 

" Peggy Montfort ! why do you go with 
that little animal ? I've told you before that 
I could not, for the honour of the corridor, 
have you seen with a creature that looks like 
that. Let her go with Colney Hatch if she 
wants company ; they'd be two of a kind." 

" Colney Hatch is one of the brightest girls 
in school. Miss Cortlandt says so ! " 

" Very likely ; but that doesn't make her a 
fit associate for you, my Veezy-vee. You 
never seem to understand about different sets. 
I want you to belong to the smart set, and 
you won't." 



ON SPY HILL. 247 

"Do the Owls belong to it?" demanded 
Peggy, turning red. 

" Peggy, how dense you are ! The Owls 
don't belong to any set because they won't. 
Of course they could belong to any set they 
pleased." 

" Does Grace Wolfe belong to it ? " 

"The Goat? Why, she used to ; but she's so 
awfully queer, you know; the Goat has grown 
too awfully queer for anything. She stays by 
herself mostly, ever since she cut loose from 
the Gang. And Vivia is gone," she wailed, 
" and Blanche Haight, — Blanchey was not 
very nice, but her gowns fitted like a ser- 
aph's, and the style to her hats was too 
perfectly killing for anything, you know it 
was. And now there isn't any one, not a 
single soul, that I care to talk to about 
clothes. I've had my pink waist done over, 
and it's simply dandy — the sweetest thing 
you ever saw in your life ; and nobody cares. 
I am so unhappy ! " 

" I haven't seen that new hat you told me 
about ! " said Peggy, with a happy stroke of 
diplomacy. If any one had told Margaret 



248 PEGGY. 

Montfort that her Peggy would ever develop 
a talent for diplomacy she would have opened 
her eyes wide indeed ; but one learns many 
things at boarding-school. 

Viola brightened at once. 

" No ! didn't I? " she cried, her whole man- 
ner changing. "Would you like to see it, 
Peggy ? It is really too cute for anything, it 
just is! What makes you shut up your 
mouth that way ? '' 

" Oh, nothing ! Well, yes, it is something. 
You won't mind if I tell you ? Well, I used to 
say ^cute,' and Margaret showed me what 
bad English it was, and how silly it soimded. 
So I made up my mind to stop it, and every 
time I wanted to say it I screwed up my mouth 
and counted ten. Just the same with ^ele- 
gant.' I've broken myself of that, too, but it 
was hard work." 

" Elegant ! simply elegant ! " repeated Vi- 
ola, thoughtfully. " The Goat won't let you 
say that, either, or the Owls. What's the use 
of being so fussy ? besides, elegant is a real 
word, they can't say it isn't, so now ! " 

"Oh! of course it is, and it has its real 



ON SPY HILL. 249 

use. You can speak of an elegant dress, or an 
elegant carriage, and then it's all right ; but 
I used to say I had had an elegant time, don't 
you know ? and talk about elegant cake, and 
all that kind of thing. And when once you 
have learned better, it does sound awfully 
sUly." 

" Well, they make just as much fuss about 
^ awful,' and there you are saying that, and 
you say it all the time." 

" I know ! " said poor Peggy, hanging her 
head. " I know I do, though I try awfully 
hard not to. There ! that's the way it is. It 
does seem as if I couldn't get over that, but 
I'm going on trying. And if you don't get 
your hat this minute, V., I shall go without 
you. I can't wait any longer. It's awfully 
— it's very late." 

" Why, I'm coming, as fast as I can ; how 
impatient you are, Peggy! You aren't half 
as fond of me as I am of you, or you would 
not be in such a hurry to get away to that 
little fright. There, here it is ! Now isn't 
that dandy, simply dandy ? I do think it is 
too perf'ly sweet for anything ! " 



250 PEGGY. 

It was a pretty hat, and Viola certainly 
looked charming in it. She was so pleased 
with her appearance that she could not resist 
the temptation of " showing off " to the other 
girls ; so she followed Peggy down to the 
lawn, where a little group was already gath- 
ered. At sight of a junior, even so unfor- 
midable a junior as Viola Vincent, poor little 
Lobelia Parkins shrank into a small knotted 
heap of misery. Through Peggy's interces- 
sion. Rose Barclay and the two other fresh- 
men had been kind to her, and had agreed to 
let her share their walks, which they took 
now semi- weekly under Peggy's leadership. 
None of them cared for her, or felt much 
interest in her, but they did care for Peggy 
Montf ort, partly because she was the strongest 
girl in the class, partly because of the fame 
that had accrued to her since her exploit in 
resisting and breaking up the famous Gang ; 
but mostly, perhaps, because everybody felt 
and said that Peggy Montf ort was "all right," 
which in schoolgirl parlance meant that she 
was a cheerful, kindly, and right-minded girl. 
So, though her chief friends were still among 



ON SPY HILL. 251 

the juniors, she was well known and well 
liked in her own class. 

Peggy took Lobelia's hand, and drew it 
resolutely through her arm. 

" We'll lead the way ! " she cried. " Rose 
and Viola, you two come next, and Clara and 
Ethel bring up the rear. How's that ? "^ 

All agreed to the arrangement ; and the six 
started off in high spirits. 

" Where are we going to-day ? " asked Rose 
Barclay, "Don't kill us, Peggy! I haven't 
got over being stiff yet, from the last tramp. 
It was jolly, though." 

" It was splendid ! " chimed in Ethel Bird. 
" Why, I had no idea what pretty places there 
were about here. Shall we go to the woods 
again ? " 

" I thought of going up Spy Hill ! " said 
Peggy. " It isn't very high, and there's a 
lovely view from the top." 

" Oh, I never can get as far as that ! " cried 
Viola, aghast. " You said a little walk, Peggy, 
and that is miles and miles, I know it is. Oh, 
I think I'll go back." 

"Oh, don't!" cried Rose, in a tone of heart- 



252 PEGGY. 

felt interest that won Viola's susceptible heart. 
" It isn't very far, truly it isn't ; and I want 
to ask you where you got that hat. It is too 
perfectly lovely for anything! I've got to 
have a new hat, and I do wish — " 

" My dear ! " cried Viola, dimpling all over 
with pleasure, "I'll tell you all about it. You 
see — " 

There was no more trouble with Viola. 
Peggy chuckled, and started off at a round 
pace, the others following. 

The two Owls, standing at their window 
with arms intertwined, just thinking of taking 
a little flutter in the cool of the afternoon, 
looked after them with friendly eyes. 

"What's the matter with Peggy Montfort?" 
said the Fluffy to the Snowy. 

" She's all right ! " said the Snowy to the 
Fluffy. And then they looked at each other 
sternly, and shook their heads in grave re- 
buke. " My dear," they said both together, 
" we are surprised ! " 



CHAPTER XV. 

WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH LOBELIA 

PARKINS ? 

" Lobelia, I insist upon knowing ! " 
" Oh, Peggy, please don't ask me ! " 
'' But I will ask you. I do ask you. What 
is it that you are afraid of ? I shall find out 
sooner or later, so you might as well give up 
at once and tell me." 

Lobelia looked around her uneasily. She 
and Peggy were sitting in a cosy little hollow 
under the lee of a great brown rock, waiting 
for the others to come up. 

" Come ! " said Peggy. " There's nobody 
behind that rock. What is the matter with 
you, Lobelia Parkins, and why don't you 
sleep ? Out with it ! " 

Lobelia sighed, and twisted her buttons. 
"I — I never am a very good sleeper," she 
said at last. "I — I'm nervous, Peggy. And 
then — " 

253 



254 PEGGY. 

" And then, what ? " 

" Oh, dear me ! I can't tell you. You 
won't believe me if I tell you. Things come 
into my room and frighten me." 

^' Things ? What do you mean, Lobelia ? " 

"I don't know what I mean!" cried the 
poor girl, looking about her again, as if in 
dread of some unseen terror. " I don't know 
who it is, or what it is. Something — or 
somebody — comes through my room at night 
and goes out of the window." 

" Ah ! " said Peggy. " Well, go on. How 
long has this been going on ? " 

" Oh, ever so long ! At first — Peggy, you 
will feel badly if I tell you this." 

"Well, then, I've got to feel badly," said 
Peggy, stoutly. " Though I can't see what I 
have to do with it — so far. I'll have plenty 
to do with it from now on ! " she added, sig- 
nificantly. " Go on, Lobelia." 

"Well, you know that time you were so 
good to me, Peggy ; when Blanche Haight and 
those others were teasing me, and you came 
in like a lioness and drove them off. I never 
shall forget it as long as I live, Peggy, never ! " 



WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 255 

" Nonsense ! " said Peggy. " It wasn't any- 
thing at all. Don't be absurd, Lobelia. Well, 
what since then ? " 

" It began after that. She — I know that 
it used to be Blanche Haight then — she used 
to come in after I was in bed, and frighten 
me. She had a sheet on, and at first I 
thought it was a ghost, and I fainted the first 
time, I think ; and then she used — she used 
to make faces and pinch me, and one time I 
saw her ring, and so I knew who it was." 

" The cowardly brute ! " muttered Peggy. 
" It's wfeU for her that she's out of this school. 
Now, Lobelia Parkins, why, in the name of 
all that is feeble-minded and ridiculous, didn't 
you tell me this before ? " 

" Oh, I couldn't ! " said Lobelia. " I had 
given you enough trouble, Peggy. And 
besides — " 

"Well! besides what ? " 

" I was afraid ! I was afraid she would 
kill me if I told." 

" My goodness gracious me!'' cried Peggy, 
bouncing on her mossy seat, till Lobelia shrank 
away scared and trembling. " Do you think 



256 PEGGY. 

we live in the Middle Ages, Lobelia Parkins ? 
This is what comes of reading history; it 
puts all those old-fangled notions into your 
head, till you have no sense left. I know ! 
You had all that stuff about Florence and 
Rome, and poisoning, and all that. I had it 
too ; awful stuff, and probably two-thirds lies. 
History is the father of lies, you know; 
somebody says so somewhere." 

"I — I thought it was Herodotus who was 
called that," Lobelia ventured, timidly. 

" Perhaps it was; it's all the same." 

" No, I am wrong. Herodotus was called 
the father of history, and then some other 
people said he was the father of lies ; but now 
it has all come true, so he isn't any more ! " 

Lobelia, who was stupid and painstaking, 
proffered this lucid explanation painfully, and 
then gasped ; it seemed a liberty for her to 
explain anything to anybody. 

" Who cares ? " said Peggy. " He's dead, 
anyhow. Oh, how it used to provoke my 
dearest Margaret when I said that. I only 
mean, I never see how it can matter so much 
as people think. But you are not dead. 



WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 257 

Lobelia; and the idea of your being killed, 
here in this school, in the nineteenth cen- 
tury ! Why, it is absurd, don't you see ? It 
is funny! You must laugh about it, my 
dear!" 

Lobelia, with an effort, produced a watery 
smile ; seeing which, Peggy's mood changed, 
and she laid her hand instantly on the skinny, 
shrinking arm. 

" My dear, don't think I was laughing at 
youj' she cried, warmly. " No ; I am going 
to be furious in a minute, when I get round to 
that part again. Well, but Lobelia, Blanche 
Haight is gone now, and a good riddance, and 
yet you say you are still afraid. What are 
you afraid of?" 

"I — I don't know who it is now!" said 
Lobelia. " But some one comes through, just 
the same." 

" How do you mean, just the same ? some 
one pinches you ? " 

" No ! oh, no ! this person never speaks to 
me or looks at me. It — she — only wants 
to go through the window. It has something 
light gray over its head and shoulders. It 



258 PEGGY. 

goes down the fire-escape and stays about 
half an hour, and then comes back. I — I 
don't mind it so very much, now. I dare 
say it's all right, only — I can't sleep very 
well, you know." 

" I see ! " said Peggy. " Well, I think we 
can settle that matter, Lobelia. Hush ! here 
come the others. We won't say anything 
more about it now. Well, girls, how did it 
go ? Isn't it a lovely little scramble ? " 

Rose Barclay and Viola appeared, with the 
other two just behind. Viola was panting, 
and her delicate colour was deepened by 
exertion till she was almost as rosy as her 
companion. 

" My dear ! " she cried. " You are respon- 
sible for my life ! I am killed ; simply killed, 
Peggy Montfort. I shall never recover from 
this awful fatigue, I know I shall not." 

" Nonsense ! " said Peggy, briefly. " Here ! 
sit down here, V., and get your breath ; you'll 
be all right in a minute. It wasn't bad, was 
it, Rose ? " 

" It was a bit stiff in one place ! " Rose 
admitted. "I rather think we took the 



WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 259 

wrong turn, Peggy. Did you say left, after 
the big pine ? " 

"No, right; you didn't come up that 
bank ? Poor little V. ! no wonder she thinks 
she is killed. Let me take your hat off, V., 
and get you some water or something." 

But Viola refused to part with her hat. 
She sat panting and crimson, and seemed 
really exhausted. Peggy eyed her with re- 
morse. "I couldn't know that you would 
take the wrong turn, could I?" she said. 
" I'm awfully sorry ! " 

" Oh, but it was fine ! " said Ethel Bird. 
"How do you find out all these places, 
P^ggy ? This is just lovely, isn't it ? " 

" By looking," said Peggy. " I like to 
poke about, and I came on this the other day. 
See, here's a little baby spring, trickling 
right out of the rock here. Isn't it pretty? 
and the water is clear and cold as ice. Shall 
I make you a leaf-cup, Viola ? The best way, 
though, is to put your mouth down and drink, 
this way." 

" Oh, I never would do that ! " cried Clara 
Fair. "Why, a snake might go right down 



260 PEGGY. 

your throat, Peggy Montf ort ; truly it might. 
There was a man — " 

" Oh, don't talk about a man ! " .cried Rose 
Barclay. "How could you, Clara? You 
remind me of my German lesson." 

" I never said a word about your German 
lesson," said Clara, who was literal and 
matter-of-fact. 

"No, but you reminded me," said Rose, 
who was imaginative and poetic. "All the 
morning I was saying to myself: 

" ' Der dickere Mann, 
Des dickeren Mannes, 
Dem dickeren Manne, 
Den dickeren Mann.' " 

"You seem to have learned it, anyhow," 
said Peggy, laughing. 

" Oh, but that isn't all ! " said Rose. 
"There is more horror. It goes on, you 
know: 

" ' Die dickeren Manner, 
Der dickeren Manner, 
Den dickeren Mannern, 
Die dickeren Manner.' " 



WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 261 

"I think foreign languages are the silli- 
est things in the world ! " declared Peggy. 
" Well, I do ! Such perfect foolishness as they 
talk ! I have no patience with them/' 

"Well, but Peggy, they aren't foreign 
when they are at home ! " protested Ethel. 

"Well, then, I wish they would stay at 
home. I don't know whether German is so 
bad, though that sounds awful, all that you 
said just now, Rose ; but I have French ; and 
I have to try to mince and simper, and twist 
my mouth up into all kinds of shapes, just 
saying things that are too silly to be said. 
I wish there was a law that no one in this 
country should ever speak anything but 
English. It would be ever so much more 
sensible." 

" So it would ! " assented Rose. " I say ! 
what a pity we didn't think to bring some- 
thing to eat ! I'm awfully hungry, walking 
all this way." 

" All this way. Rose ! " said Peggy. " Why, 
how far do you think it is ? 

" Oh, four or five miles, I'm sure ! " 

"Well, it isn't two. Look here, girls. 



262 PEGGY. 

what is the reason none of you seem to know 
how to walk ? " 

" What do you mean ? We have walked, 
haven't we? Here we are." 

" Oh, you call this a walk ! that's just it, I 
tell you. You walk a mile, or two at the 
very most, and you think you have done 
something wonderful; and poor Viola is all 
tired out, and says she will never come again. 
Well, but this isn't what / call walking, you 
know. Why, I went with the Owls the other 
day, and we walked fifteen miles if we did a 
step, and it was perfectly glorious. TTiafs 
what / call walking, and I do wonder how it 
is that none of you ever learned. You are 
all strong and well, aren't you?" 

Yes, they were all strong and well; ex- 
cept Viola, who still declared she had got her 
death, and should never recover. 

" Well, but what's the use ? " asked Rose. 
" I think this is great fun, to come to a pretty 
place like this, and sit and talk and look at 
the view; but just to go on walking and 
stalking along the way you and the Owls do, 
— what's the use of it ? We are not ostriches. 



WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 263 

and why should we pretend we are ? Besides, 
it takes such a lot of time." 

" And what would you be doing with your 
time ? " asked Peggy, hotly. " Reading 
stories, or just sitting, sitting, and talking, 
talking. My goodness gracious me ! the 
way some of the girls just sit around all 
their spare tinje, doing nothing, makes me 
tired. Why, if I hadn't stalked, as you call 
it, how would you have come here to-day, 
and seen the prettiest place you ever saw 
since you came here — for it is, and you can't 
deny it, girls. I do hate to see people doing 
nothing. I don't much care what they do, 
so long as it is something ! " 

" Peggy, you're getting very ferocious, do 
you know it ? " said Clara Fair. " And, after 
all, we did come, and now we are doing just 
as much as you are, and why are you shout- 
ing at us ? " 

" I won't shout any more," said Peggy, 
laughing. " I suppose we all have our hob- 
bies, haven't we ? Walking is one of mine ; 
and you are going to like it just as much as I 
do, girls, before we get through the term. 



264 PEGGY. 

Why, there are about twenty of the loveliest 
walks, and none of them — hallo ! " 

Peggy stopped abruptly, and seemed to 
listen. 

"What's the matter?" asked Rose. "I 
didn't hear anything. " 

"I thought I did," said Peggy, quietly. 
" Be still a minute, will you ? " 

She bent her head. There was a moment 
of perfect silence ; then, somewhere close at 
hand, a singular dry, rattling sound. 

" What a queer noise ! " said Ethel. " What 

is it ? " 

" It's time to go home, girls ! " said Peggy. 
" You'd better start along, and I'll come be- 
hind you. Come, Viola, give me your hand 
— so ! Now take her. Rose, and hurry along ! 
Lobelia, go with them, will you ? " 

" What upon earth is the matter, Peggy 
Montfort ? " asked Rose, eyeing her curiously. 
" What do you want to get us out of the way 
for? I believe you have found something, 
and want to keep it to yourself." 

" Rose, please go ! " said Peggy, earnestly. 
" I am coming, I tell you. No, not there ! 



WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 265 

that way — along by the big pine. Keep 
away from the rock — so ! Now hurry, and 
I'm coming right along." 

The girls hardly knew why they obeyed; 
but there was such a singular earnestness in 
Peggy's look and gesture that they did not 
stay to question her, but one and all — or so 
it seemed — turned and hastened down the 
side of the hill. 

No sooner were their backs turned than 
Peggy, whose keen eyes had been fixed all 
this time on one spot, moved swiftly behind 
a great rock that stood clpse by. There, 
stooping, she sought with eager hands and 
eyes; sought and found a stout stick. She 
tried its strength — it was strong and tough. 
Then warily she came back, and looked once 
more at the pile of withered leaves that had 
riveted her attention before. The pile seemed 
to move — to undulate ; and from it came 
once more the dry, rattling sound. Some- 
thing reared itself, brown and slender ; at the 
same instant a shriek rang through the wood. 
It did not come from Peggy's lips. Like a 
flash, the girl had sprung forward, and caught 



266 PEGGY. 

the snake's neck under her crotched stick, just 
as he was raising himself to strike. Pinned 
firmly to the earth, the creature could only 
twist and wriggle in impotent rage. Looking 
around coolly, Peggy saw Lobelia's face peer- 
ing around the trunk of a tree, pale with 
horror. 

" Well ! " said Peggy. " You are a nice 
obedient child, aren't you? Since you are 
there, you might get me a good stone ; he's 
all right ; he can't get his head round." 

Gasping and trembling, Lobelia found and 
brought a stone, which she held out at arm's 
length. 

" Oh, Peggy ! " she whispered. " Is it — 
is it a rattlesnake ? " 

" That's what ! " said Peggy, relapsing into 
slang in the absorption of the moment. " He 
won't be a rattlesnake much longer, though. 
There ! now you can look, Lobelia ; he's dead. 
I tell you he's dead, as dead as Julius Caesar. 
What are you crying for, child? " 

Lobelia came forward, trembling and cring- 
ing. 

" Oh, Peggy, I knew it was. I didn't say 



WHAT WAS THE MATTER ? 267 

anything, because I thought you wouldn't 
want me to — " 

" Quite right/' said Peggy. " Sensible 
rabbit ! " 

" And — and I am terribly afraid of snakes 
— oh, I was sure you would be killed, 
Peggy ! " 

" And so you came back to be killed with 
me? Lobelia, what a foolish girl you are. 
There, there, don't cry. Why, the snake isn't 
crying, and he really has been killed." 

" Oh, Peggy, if you had been killed, I 
should have died. I shouldn't have needed 
any snake to kill me." 

"Nonsense!" said Peggy, gruffly. "Lo- 
belia, do stop crying. My goodness gracious 
mCj come along, or we shall have them all 
back again after us. I'm going to bring him 
too, and get Colney to dry him for me. He's 
a beauty ! look at him. Lobelia ! Not look 
at him ? Why, I tell you he's dead, as dead 
as — who was he ? — the Father of Lies ! 
Come along, now." 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 

All was quiet in No. 18, Corridor C. It 
was the room directly above Peggy ; and was 
tenanted, as we have seen, by Lobelia Par- 
kins. Lobelia was in bed at this moment, 
though it was before the usual bedtime. She 
had felt ill and dizzy-brained for several days, 
and Peggy had begged her to go to bed early 
and get a good long sleep. Peggy herself lay 
on a mattress on the floor. It was against 
the rule, but for once the law-abiding Peggy 
was wilfully breaking the rule. She felt strong 
in Miss Russell's confidence in her; and she 
meant to find out who and what it was that 
was " frightening Lobelia silly," as she ex- 
pressed it. Accordingly, here she was, in her 
wrapper, with a blanket rolled around her. 
The night was warm, and the window was 
thrown wide open, Peggy having been brought 



THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 269 

up to love fresh air. Lobelia shivered, but 
would rather have frozen stiff than say a 
word, if Peggy preferred to have the room 
cold. Each girl hoped the other was asleep. 
Lobelia hardly dared to breathe ; she lay still 
as a mouse, feeling a delightful sense of com- 
fort and security, such as she had not felt since 
she came to this nightmare of a place. Not 
to be alone any more, with the night and the 
terrible things it brought; to have this 
friend, so strong, so kind, so helpful, lying 
close beside the bed, ready to help, to com- 
fort, — Lobelia's poor shrinking spirit took 
courage, and she held her breath now and 
then, for the pure pleasure of hearing Peggy's 
calm, regular breathing. Surely she must be 
asleep ! She could not breathe like that unless 
she were sleeping quietly. Oh, might nothing 
happen to break her friend's rest ! 

Peggy was very nearly asleep, it was true. 
She had meant to stay awake as long as there 
was any possibility of any one's coming into 
the room. She was valiantly wide awake at 
first, and lay blinking at the moon, which 
was shining in the most obliging manner full 



270 PEGGY. 

upon the spot where she lay. Peggy won- 
dered what those mountains were like which 
made the strange figures on the broad, silver 
disk. They must be tremendous! Think of 
them, miles high, with deep, awful valleys 
between, and all dead and white and dry like 
bone. And all they seemed to be good for 
now was for us to make faces and things out 
of, and stories — to please — the — children. 
Peggy was getting very sleepy. She opened 
her eyes wider, and stared harder at the 
moon. It seemed to be staring back. They 
were certainly eyes, not — mountains — and 
one of them was winking at her; and now 
she seemed to hear a sound, a voice, com- 
ing from far, far — ages away, and saying, 
whispering — 

Then, all in a moment, sleep, and the moon 
and its mountains were as if they had never 
been. 

The door opened, swiftly and noiselessly, 
and some one darted in, — a tall, slender fig- 
ure, with gray drapery over the head and 
shoulders. It turned and halted, facing the 
door. Peggy sprang up in bull-dog silence, 



THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 271 

and was about to fling herself bodily on the 
intruder ; but an arm thrown out, a familiar 
gesture, a whispered word, checked her, and 
she stood motionless, hardly drawing breath. 
Next moment footsteps were heard in the 
corridor, as of some one hastening, and mak- 
ing every effort to be silent. The door was 
pushed hastily open, and Miss Pugsley stood 
on the threshold. She was panting, and her 
dress was disarranged. 

" Ah ! " she cried, in a spiteful whisper. 
" I have caught you at last, have I ? I know 
you, miss ! No need to hide your face ! I 
know you well enough, and this is the end 
of your fine doings. Lift up that veil, I 
command you ! " 

The gray figure advanced toward her one 
step, and lifted the veil; and even Peggy's 
stout heart turned to water within her. Miss 
Pugsley recoiled with a wild shriek from the 
waxen countenance, the hollow burning eyes, 
the fleshless, grinning lips; recoiled, stag- 
gered, and fled back moaning along the 
corridor. The gray figure dropped its veil 
and darted in pursuit. Peggy, running to 



272 PEGGY. 

the door, saw them vanish around the comer ; 
then she returned, to find Lobelia fallen into 
a dead faint, her head hanging over the side 
of the bed. 

As she bent over her anxiously, rubbing 
her hands and trying to rouse her, a single 
board creaked in the corridor ; next moment 
the gray figure entered again, this time 
quietly and without hurry. The veil was 
thrown back, revealing a well-known face. 
The hideous death's head was now carried in 
the hand. 

" Sorry if I alarmed you, Innocent ! " said 
Grace Wolfe. " What in the name of un- 
reason are you doing here?" 

" Oh, Grace, she has fainted ! " cried Peggy. 
" Help me ! Bring some water, do ! '' 

Grace vanished again, and was back in two 
minutes with water and smelling-salts. As 
they bent over the unconscious girl, bathing 
her temples and holding the salts to her nose, 
a few hurried sentences were exchanged. 

" What was it ? What have you there, 
Grace?" 

" Oh, nothing ; merely Colney's skull ; not 




THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 273 

her own, you understand, but that of her 
charmer." 

" But — but the eyes glared ! I saw them 
glare, like fire." 

"Phosphorus, my sweet babe! Hast no 
chemistry to thy name? 'Twere well to 
mend thy ways." 

" And why — what were you doing, Grace ? 
Oh, see what you have done ! Look at this 
poor child, and tell me why you came to play 
such pranks in her room." 

Peggy's voice was stern enough. She for- 
got her love and admiration for Grace; she 
only saw what seemed like wanton cruelty 
toward a forlorn and helpless creature, and 
her blood was up. 

Grace shrugged her shoulders. 

" I am sorry," she said. " I am even very 
sorry. Innocent. What more would you 
have ? I didn't mean to come in ; indeed, I 
had no thought of the little creature at alL 
I had a vow that the next time that woman 
looked through my keyhole she should repent 
it. I think she did. If she does it again, I'll 
shoot her; I've just told her so." 



274 PEGGY. 

^'Why — how did you know? What did 
she do ? " 

" Oh, child, I can't always tell you how I 
know things. I feel them in my bones. This 
is full moon, and it was borne in upon me that 
she thought I would be up to something to- 
night, and would be upon the watch; so I 
went on the watch, too. I arranged a pretty 
scene of confusion in my room, open window, 
things all thrown about, — just as it would 
look if I had been having a lark; left the 
light burning, went and borrowed this soulful 
smiler, and treated it a little, — no, Colney 
knows nothing about it ; no use in getting her 
into trouble ; then I took my mosquito-netting 
mantle, and hid in the broom-closet near my 
door. Sure enough, I hadn't been there long 
when along comes my Puggy, in felt slippers, 
and looks in at my keyhole. I waited, to 
make sure, then I came gliding past, without 
observing her, you see, corridor being pretty 
dark. She observed me, however, and pur- 
sued. I led her quite a pretty dance, till I 
thought her breath would be getting short, 
and then I turned in here, partly because it 



THE TERROR BY KIGHT. 275 

was handy, partly because — well, I have 
been in the habit of passing through here, 
when the kid was asleep. See ! she's opening 
her eyes. Speak to her, you ! She's more 
used to you." 

Peggy lifted Lobelia's head into her lap. 
" How are you now, dear ? " she asked, strok- 
ing the thin hair affectionately. " Lobelia, 
it's Peggy! You are all right; there's no 
one here, no one to hurt you. That — that 
was only a trick. Lobelia." 

Lobelia moaned, but made no reply. Grace 
leaned forward. " Peggy is right," she said, 
softly. "It was a trick. Lobelia, and not 
meant for you at all. I — I never thought 
about you, I'm afraid. Do you feel better 
now ? I'm truly sorry, my dear." 

There was no answering look of intelligence 
in Lobelia's face. She lay shivering, with 
wide, frightened eyes. 

" Oh, Grace, I'm afraid she's ill ! " said 
Peggy- "See! she doesn't seem to know us. 
What shall we do ? Lobelia ! Do look at me ! 
Do speak to me ! Oh, Grace, what shall we 
do ? Where are you going ? " 



276 PEGGY. 

"I am going to call Miss Russell," said 
Grace. 

Miss Russell came presently, and looked 
very grave when she saw Lobelia's face, which 
was now flushed with fever, her eyes still 
staring wide, as if they saw some dreadful 
vision. 

"What has happened?" she said, briefly. 
" I must have the truth ! " 

Grace told her the truth, every word, not 
keeping back anything: merely adding that 
Peggy had nothing to do with it all. 

" And what were you doing here, Peggy ? " 
asked Miss Russell. 

Peggy explained. " I meant to tell what- 
ever I found out, to-morrow. Miss Russell," 
she added. " I thought you would want me 
to discover what — what had been going on." 

Miss Russell nodded. " Go to your rooms 
now, girls," was all she said. "Or — no; 
Peggy, ask Miss Cortlandt to send at once for 
Doctor Hendon. Grace, you will remain in 
your room till I come to you." 

Grace tried to rise in obedience ; but the 
sick girl grasped her dress, and held it tight. 



THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 277 

" Don't leave me/' she said, in a hardly au- 
dible whisper. 

" You don't want me, you poor thing ! " 
said Grace; and though she spoke low, her 
tone was very bitter. " Let me go, and you 
shall never see me again. Don't trouble 
about me. Miss Russell. I'll pack my trunk, 
and be off in the morning before any one is 
awake." 

" You will do as I tell you," said Miss Rus- 
sell, quietly. " Peggy, go quickly ! Now, 
my poor child, let me take your hand. Move 
softly, Grace, and I think you can slip away." 

Grace tried once more to loosen the hold of 
the cramped, skinny hand, but Lobelia only 
clutched the tighter; and now, in her de- 
lirium, she caught Grace's hand with her 
other one, and held it tight, tight. "Don't 
leave me ! " she muttered. " Peggy, Peggy, 
don't leave me ! " 

Upon this, Grace looked up at Miss Russell ; 
the hard, defiant look was gone, the wild blue 
eyes were swimming in tears. " Let me stay," 
she murmured. "Miss Russell, let me stay 
with her. I'll go away after she gets well. 



278 PEGGY. 

She thinks I am Peggy, and you know I am a 
good nurse. Let me stay and take care of 
her, and I will bless you all my life, even if I 
never see you again." 

" You shall stay," said Miss Russell. " My 
poor Grace, this may be the hardest and heavi- 
est punishment I could give you. You shall 
stay, and see what your cruel and wilful care- 
lessness has brought to pass. God help us 
and you ! " 



CHAPTER XVn. 



WAITING. 



In the dreadful days that followed, Grace 
Wolfe hardly left the sick girl's side. The 
doctor came, and pronounced the trouble a 
brain fever, brought on by fear and worry. 
A trained nurse came and took charge. 
Lobelia submitted to her care, but her one 
conscious instinct was that of clinging to 
Grace. Whether, as seemed most probable, 
she took her for Peggy, or whether she sim- 
ply felt and craved the magnetism of the 
wild girl's touch and presence, they could not 
tell; but she was never quiet save when 
Grace's hand was resting on her. Her aunt 
came, her sole living relative ; and seeing 
her, poor Lobelia was explained. Prim, 
fussy, and forbidding, her rich dress showing 
the same utter tastelessness that marked that 
of her niece. Miss Parkins was not the 



279 



280 PEGGY. 

woman one would have chosen to be the 
mother of a gh-1 like Lobelia. She looked at 
the sick girl, and said it was very unfortu- 
nate ; she was always having illnesses, and 
had given them no end of anxiety. 

" She has had everything that money could 
buy ! " she said, over and over. " It has 
never seemed to make any difference; her 
mother was the same sort of person, unrea- 
sonable, always wanting what she couldn't 
have. My brother had a great deal of trou- 
ble with her, and Lobelia is like her. I have 
tried to do my duty by her. Do you think 
she will get well, doctor ? " 

"Yes, I do think she will get well!" 
replied Doctor Hendon, glaring at her in a 
way that made Miss Russell feel alarm for her 
safety. "I think she will get well if she 
stays here, and has care and tenderness and 
sympathetic treatment. You are her sister ? " 
He turned upon Grace, who sat beside the bed, 
passing her light hand over the sick girl's 
forehead with smooth, regular strokes. 

"No," said Miss Russell. "This is one 
of the pupils. Miss Wolfe. She — was in the 



WAITING. 281 

room when this attack came on, and Lobelia 
has clung to her from the first in a sin- 
gular manner. I did not dare to remove 
her, and so, as you see, she has simply 
stayed here, helping the nurse." 

" I see ! " said the doctor. " I suppose 
she was — hum! stay close by her!" this 
was to Grace. " You have a touch, I see. 
Probably you have been kind to her, — poor, 
forlorn, miserable little creature as ever I saw 
in my life ! " The last words were hurried out 
as if they were one, in a gruff, not to say 
savage whisper. 

Grace looked up at him. " I am the cause 
of her illness," she said, quietly. . " I have 
never been kind to her, or taken any notice 
of her. I have come through her room, 
using it for a passage when I was breaking 
bounds, and have frightened her — to death." 

The doctor looked at her under his bushy 
eyebrows. " That may all be so ! " he said. 
" All the same, you may now have the chance 
of saving her life. Stay by her, that's all I 
have to say to you." 

"And what have you to say to me, doc- 



282 PEGGY. 

tor?" asked Miss Parkins. "I have a great 
responsibility. Lobelia will inherit a large 
fortune if she. lives. She has had everything 
that money — " 

'' You can go home ! " said Doctor Hendon, 
with a sudden movement suggestive of biting. 
" Go home, and stay there — I — mean, have 
things ready for her when she i^ ready for a 
change. Good morning ! Ya-ouw ! " this last 
was a manner of snarl with which he fa- 
voured Miss Parkins as he trotted out of the 
room. The lady stared after him. " Is he a 
little touched ? " she asked. " He doesn't 
seem quite sane." 

Miss Russell assured her that Doctor Hen- 
don was eminently sane, and got her out of 
the room as soon as possible. 

Grace remained, and hour by hour kept 
her watch at the sick girl's pillow, laying her 
magic touch on the burning brow, singing the 
soft songs that seemed more than anything 
else to soothe the sufferer. So sitting, hour 
by hour, day after day, the old life seemed to 
slip away from Grace Wolfe. She felt it 
going, felt the change coming on spirit and 



WAITING. 283 

thought, but made no effort to hinder the 
change. All the restlessness, the wild long- 
ing for freedom, the beating her head against 
the friendly bars, — where was it now ? She 
was content to sit here, watching with the 
nurse the changes that came over the face of 
their patient. They talked together in low 
voices which soothed rather than disturbed ; 
one asking, the other relating, the woman 
of experience and the eager girl exchanged 
thoughts and confidences. Many times in 
the day the girls came to the door, Peggy 
and the Owls, and now and then an anxious, 
frightened freshman. Peggy had longed to 
assist in the nursing, but she had too heavy 
a hand, and hers was not the gift. Ger- 
trude Merr3rweather had it, and she some- 
times took Grace's place, and sent her down 
for a breath of fresh air and a run with 
Bertha or Peggy on the lawn. Grace went 
obediently, for she knew she must keep up 
her strength ; but she was always back again 
at the first possible instant, and her thoughts 
never seemed to go with her, but stayed at 
her post. 



284 PEGGY. 

"My dear," said Miss Russell once, "I 
cannot let you wear yourself out. Let Ger- 
trude watch to-night while Miss Carter rests!" 
But Grace only said, " I'd give my life if I 
could, Miss Russell. She's going to get well 
Lf my life can do it ! " and Miss Russell, look- 
ing into the blue eyes and meeting the spirit 
of resolution that shone there, could only kiss 
the girl's cheek and pass on. 

Lobelia was very Ul, and a shadow hung 
over the whole school. Lessons went on as 
usual, but the girls spoke low in their recita- 
tions, and there was an unconscious hurry in 
both teachers and pupils^ all anxious to get 
through, to ask and hear the last tidings from 
the sickroom. In those days, too, teachers 
and pupils learned to know each other as 
never before. The grave women who cared so 
much — so strangely much, it often seemed — 
whether a lesson were well or ill learned, who 
made such a fuss about trifles, and set such 
hard tasks, and made such unreasonable 
rules, behold ! they were just as anxious and 
troubled as if Lobelia had been one of their 
own number, instead of the most insignificant 



WAITING. 285 

freshman in the whole school. Miss Boyle 
was not simply a mathematical machine, Rose 
Barclay found out. She really cared about 
them, cared enough to call them into her 
room, and want to hear all about that last 
walk, when Peggy had killed the rattlesnake, 
— oh, how brave Peggy had been, — and how 
poor Lobelia had seen it, too, and with her 
inborn terror of snakes had perhaps got the 
first panic that, after brooding and brooding, 
and being added to the terror by night, had 
ended in this. 

Miss Pugsley was gone. Her departure 
had hardly been noticed, was well-nigh for- 
gotten by this time ; but Colney Hatch found 
Miss Mink sniffing mouse-like sniffs in a 
corner, and wept with her, and offered her a 
live bat that she had just caught, by way of 
consolation. But their tears were for Grace, 
for they hardly knew Lobelia save by sight. 

As for Miss Russell and Emily Cortlandt, 
they were the life and stay of the school in 
these days. Steadfast and cheerful, always 
hopeful, bringing forward every favourable 
symptom and sharing it with the whole 



286 PEGGY. 

school ; not a girl of all the seventy-odd who 
did not feel their sympathy and friendship 
like strong hands ready to take theirs and 
uphold them. 

One day, when things were at the worst, 
Peggy found Viola in her room, crying on the 
divan. 

" What is the matter ? " she asked, rather 
briefly. Viola's troubles seemed microscopic 
in this time of heart-wringing anxiety. 

Viola raised her head, and her eyes were 
red with weeping. 

" They say she's going to die, Peggy ! " 
she said. 

" Nonsense ! " said Peggy, gruffly. " Who 
says so ? " 

" Oh, all the girls. They say Doctor Hendon 
shook his head when he went out this morn- 
ing ; you know that's a very bad sign. Oh, 
Peggy, I wish I had been good to the poor 
little thing. You have always been good to 
her. I don't believe you suffered as much 
as I did from her clothes, but I wish I had 
been good to her all the same. Peggy, if 
she gets well, I'm going to do over her hats 



WAITING. 287 

for her, and try to make her look different. 
Peggy, where are you going ? Don't leave 
me ! Lobelia is going to die, and I feel so 
frightened." 

" I don't believe she is going to die," said 
Peggy. "I am going to the study to see 
Miss Russell ; come with me if you like, 
V." 

Viola crept along beside her, cowering in 
Peggy's shadow as they passed the door of 
the sick-room. Peggy paused to listen. 
Prom within came the sound of soft singing, 
and the faint rustle of a wood fire. What 
was Grace singing ? one of the quaint French 
songs that she loved, — 

" Trois anges sont venus ce soir, 
M'apportaient de bien belles choses ; 
L'un d'eux avaient un encensoir, 
Le deuxieme un chapelet de roses. 
Et le troisierae avait en main 
Une robe toute fleurie, 
De perles, d'or et de jasmin, 
Comme en a Madame Marie. 

Noel ! Noel ! 
Nous venons du ciel, 
T'apporter ce que tu desires; 



288 PEGGY. 

Car le bon Dieu, 

Au fond du ciel bleu, 

A chagrin lorsque tu soupires ! 



» 



The two girls crept softly past, Viola 
wiping the tears from her eyes. They went 
down to the study, and, knocking gently, 
were bidden to enter. Miss Russell and Miss 
Cortlandt were sitting together, and at their 
feet sat the Snowy and the Fluffy Owls, 
curled up on two hassocks. Peggy looked in 
timidly. 

" Come in, Peggy ! " said Miss Russell's 
cheerful voice. " Who is that with you ? Oh, 
Viola ? come in, my dear ! Do you want any- 
thing ? " 

"No, Miss Russell," said Peggy. "I — I 
just wanted to come in, that was all." 

" So did we ! " said the Fluffy. " We just 
came, and we feel so much better. Sit down 
here, Peggy." 

She patted the floor beside her, and Peggy 
and Viola sat down. Peggy heaved a sigh of 
relief. " I thought you would let us come," 
she said. " It's so dreadful not to be able to 
do anything, isn't it. Miss Russell ? K we 



WAITING. 289 

could help in any way, or feel that we were 
doing anything at all, it wouldn't be so bad. 
I came by the door just now, and Grace was 
singing, and it all sounded so quiet and peace- 
ful. You think it is all going well, don't you. 
Miss Russell ? You don't think she is worse 
to-day, do you. Miss Russell ? " 

Miss Russell put back Peggy's hair, which 
had fallen into her eyes as she looked up 
eagerly. "Dear," she said, "I was just tell- 
ing Gertrude and Bertha how it is. Doctor 
Hendon thinks there will be a change to-day ; 
he thinks the crisis is coming. It is a time 
of great danger, but he has good hope, and 
we must have it, too. And, girls, you are all 
longing to help ; now, you can help us to-day. 
You can help very much indeed. The house 
must be kept absolutely quiet this afternoon. 
The girls are in their rooms now ; but if you 

• 

could get them off for a walk, some of them, 
and send the rest to the gymnasium, you 
would be doing us all a service. Miss Cort- 
landt is going to the gymnasium, and she 
will give them a drill, or let them dance, if 
they like — you don't think they feel like 



290 PEGGY. 

dancing? No more do I! I shall not leave 
Lobelia's room myself till the change comes ; 
I am going back there now, as soon as the 
doctor comes. Ah ! there he is now ! Re- 
member, dear girls, quiet; and for the rest, 
hope and patience — and trust ! " 

She kissed them each in turn, quietly and 
gravely, and was gone. Turning to Emily 
Cortlandt, they saw that her eyes were full 
of tears ; yet she spoke cheerfully. " Miss 
Russell is so wise, girls ! " she said. " I am 
sure you will do all you can — it is an anx- 
ious time. One thing she forgot to say, — I 
wouldn't let the other girls know, if you can 
help it, how grave the danger is. Some of 
them are nervous, and might have hysterics, 
or even be ill. Viola, my child, you look 
very pale. Don't you feel well ? " 

Viola was trembling all over. She came 
close to Miss Cortlandt and nestled up to 
her like a little child. " I'm afraid ! " she 
said, simply. " I nev6r was near where any- 
body died. I'm dreadfully afraid. Miss Cort- 
landt." 

Very gently Emily Cortlandt spoke then 



WAITING. 291 

to the frightened child, and to the other three 
girls, whose strong, sensible faces were grave 
enough, but who were able to possess them- 
selves in courage and quiet. She told them 
some of her thoughts, the thoughts of a 
gentle Christian woman; of the hope and 
love and promise that made death seem to her 
only the white door that led into life, a life 
toward which we must all look, and for 
which we must shape ourselves as we pass 
through this world of joy and sorrow. She 
told them of young lives which had seemed 
cruelly cut off here; and of how it was her 
thought that death had been to them not the 
end, but the beginning; and of the lovely 
light they had shed behind them, of gentle- 
ness and hope and love. Then she spoke 
more brightly, and told them how strong, 
after all, life was in the young, and how one 
could always hope, while even a spark re- 
mained. Doctor Hendon had good hope, she 
repeated, and they must have it, too. 

" And now," she said, " I must go, and you 
must go, too. Find the girls quietly, and 
bring them to me, or take them out for one 



292 PEGGY. 

of your good walks ; and let us, whatever we 
do, do it cheerfully ! " 

Faithfully the Owls and Peggy laboured, 
that November afternoon. First they soothed 
and comforted Viola, finishing the good work 
that Miss Cortlandt had begun; •and they 
induced her to go to the gymnasium and take 
a party with her. Then they went about 
softly from door to door through the cor- 
ridors, not spreading any alarm, merely say- 
ing that Miss Russell thought they would 
all better go out, as the afternoon was so 
fine, and that they were to go quietly, as 
Lobelia might be asleep. Before long, with- 
out noise or confusion, the whole school was 
out, either in the gymnasium or on the road. 
The walkers divided into three parties, 
Peggy leading the freshmen, Gertrude the 
juniors, while Bertha marshalled the sopho- 
mores, who came like lambs, half proud, half 
shy, at being under the leadership of the re- 
nowned Fluffy. The seniors, of course, could 
be trusted to take care of themselves. They 
were a small class, and somehow — as hap- 
pens in every school with one class and 




WAITING. 293 

another — had never made themselves a 
power; they had gone now with the rest 
to the gymnasium. 

Peggy, as she walked at the head of her 
troop, tried to feel her cousin Margaret's 
hand in hers. Always humble, and distrust- 
ful of her own powers, she tried hard to think 
what Margaret would do in her place. She 
would tell stories, probably, wonderful stories 
of heroes and great deeds. Ah ! but Peggy 
did not know the stories in the books; they 
never stayed by her. Well, then, she must 
tell what she did know! She found herself 
talking about her home life, the home on the 
great Western ranch; of her father and 
brothers, and the many feats in their strong, 
active life. Here, if she had only known it, 
were stories better than any in Margaret's 
books. How Brother Jim hunted the white 
wolf for three days in the mountains; how 
Hugh set the trap for the young grizzly, and 
more wonderful, how he tamed him and made 
him his friend and servant; how Father 
Montfort saved the three men who were 
snowed up in Desolation Gulch, and brought 



294 PEGGY. 

them oyt one by one on his shoulders, just as 
their last biscuit was gone and they had sat 
down to die, — on and on went the tale, for it 
was a story without an end. On and on 
went the girls, too, unconscious of their 
going, forgetting to think they were tired, 
forgetting everything save the joy of listen- 
ing. The shadows were lengthening fast 
when Peggy, still relating, turned her face 
homeward, wondering with thankfuhiess, a^ 
she noted the position of the sim, how she 
had been able to take them so far without 
once hearing a groan or a sigh of weariness. 
She looked around, and saw only sparkling 
eyes and rosy cheeks. " A month ago," she 
thought, " they would have said I had almost 
killed them. They really are hardening, and 
Tm so glad ! " 

" Oh, go on, Peggy ! " cried Rose Barclay. 
" You are never going to stop there ! What 
became of the one with the wooden leg? 
We must know ! '* 

On went the story, and on went the girls ; 
the sun sank lower and lower, the shadows 
crept longer and longer, the air grew cool and 



WAITING. 295 

thin with the coming night. The man with 
the wooden leg had chopped it up for fuel, 
and Father Montfort had brought him and all 
•the others in triumph to the ranch, and set 
them down by the fire, when — " Oh, dear 
me ! " cried Ethel Fair. " What a shame, 
girls ! Here we are at the gate. I say ! let's 
go on a little farther, Peggy." 

But Peggy was wise, and knew when to 
stop; besides, now that she was near the 
house again, the anxiety and distress that had 
been lulled by the walk and the story-telling, 
came back like a flood, and filled her heart. 
They were crossing the lawn; what tidings 
would greet them at the door ? Some one was 
standing there now ; Miss Cortlandt, was it ? 
no. Miss Russell herself. She was waiting for 
them with the news ; would it be good or 
bad ? Peggy hung back for an instant ; then 
she walked steadily forward. " Quiet, girls ! " 
was all she said. " I think Miss Russell has 
something to tell us." 

They were at the foot of the steps now; 
and Miss Russell was coming down to meet 
them, running, the grave and stately woman, 



296 PEGGY. 

to meet them, like a girl. Her hands were 
outstretched, her face was all aglow with joy, 
the glad tears ran down her cheeks. 

" It is over ! " she whispered. " Softly, my 
dear children. Come softly in. The crisis is 
over, and the child will live. Come with me, 
and let us thank God together ! " 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 

It was a month later. The first snow had 
fallen, and the lawn was white with it, and 
all the trees and bushes powdered with frost. 
Coming out of the class-room one day, her 
heart singing of sines and cosines and tan- 
gents, Peggy found the Snowy and the Fluffy 
waiting for her at the door, with radiant 
faces. 

" Oh, what ? " cried Peggy. " A letter ? '' 

" Yes," said Gertrude. " It has just come, 
though the postmark is two or three days ago. 
Where shall we go to read it ? Your room, 
Peggy? So we will; it's nearer than the 
Nest, and I know you can't wait." 

Grace's letters were indeed things to wait 
for in those days. She had gone to Lobelia's 

297 



298 PEGGY. 

home with her ; for, on coming to herself^ the 
invalid had stOl citing to her new friend, with 
a persistency strange in one so timid and fear- 
ful. Convalescence came, with its unwilling 
fretfulness, its fits of unreason. Still Lobelia 
clung to Grace, and no one else could make 
her listen and obey. The nurse laughed, and 
said she might as well go, and leave her di- 
ploma with Miss Wolfe; yet stayed, for the 
two worked together in pleasant harmony and 
friendship. At last. Doctor Hendon ordered 
a change of scene, and now, too, Grace must 
go with her. The Parkins mansion was 
within driving distance of Pentland; the 
whole school had turned out to see the de- 
parture, the sick girl lying on cushions, her 
thin face already showing the signs of re- 
turning health, and really transfigured by the 
light of love and gratitude that beamed from 
it, as she looked from Grace to Peggy, and 
back again to Grace. She beckoned to Peggy, 
who pressed to her side and bent over her. 
" What is it, dear ? " she whispered. 

" Peggy ! '' 

" Yes, Lobelia." 



THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 299 

" Peggy, you don't mind ? " 

" Mind what ? I don't mind anything, now 
that you are getting well." 

" You — you were my first friend, the only 
friend I had. You don't mind — that I love 
her? I couldn't help it, Peggy. She kept 
me alive, you see. Often and often, when I 
was drifting away, and ready to die, she held 
me, and would not let me go. You are sure 
you don't mind, Peggy ?" 

Peggy kissed her heartily, and told her not 
to talk nonsense. " If you didn't love her," 
she said, " I'd have nothing to do with you. 
Lobelia Parkins. Do you hear that ? Noth- 
ing ! I wouldn't speak to you in the street, 
if I met you." 

Lobelia smiled, and leaned back on the 
cushions with closed eyes and a look of abso- 
lute content. " You are so funny, Peggy ! " 
she murmured. " She is funny, too. I like 
people who are funny. Good-bye, and thank 
everybody. Everybody is so kind ! " 

The carriage drove away, and the last thing 
the girls saw was Grace's face, looking down 
at her charge ; grave as ever, — Grace rarely 



300 PEGGY. 

smiled, and they hardly knew the sound of 
her laugh, — but bright as Lobelia's own with 
love and purpose and gladness. So they 
passed out of sight. 

And since then had come letters every week, 
telling of the child's progress; one to Miss 
Russell always, and one to the Owls or to 
Peggy. It was one of these that Gertrude 
took from her pocket now and opened, as they 
sat together on Peggy's divan. 

" You see, it is dated three days ago ; prob- 
ably been carried in a pocket, from the look 
of it." 

" Dear Snowy, also Fluffy : — Tu whit ! She 
has been gaining so fast this week, we shall soon for- 
get she has been ill at all. She can eat anything she 
likes, and she likes a great deal. Miss P. keeps ex- 
claiming at her appetite. Apparently the child never 
ate anything before she went to school. The rule of 
the house is, or was, one shredded wheat Abomination 
for breakfast, one chop for dinner, one smoked her- 
ring for supper. All this served on huge and hideous 
silver dishes. This order is changed. Miss Parkins 
almost fainted when I ordered the first meal. She 
weeps every day over the butcher's book, but the 
child fattens apace, and all is well. I had to frighten 



THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 301 

her — the aunt — a little, though, before things went 
smoothly. 

" Yesterday we explored the house, the Babe and 
I. The amazing thing is that she lived at all after 
she got her eyes open. Apparently every article cost 
a thousand dollars ; most awful old mausoleum you 
can imagine ; you never saw such a place, for there 
couldn't be two. The bed I sleep in has all-round 
curtains of apple-green plush, with bead fringe three 
inches deep. The mantelpiece and table-top and so 
on are gray marble, and the ornaments are two 
deformed gilt cherubs holding a slop-jar with a 
clock-face in the middle of it. Also two unspeak- 
able alabaster jugs, three feet high, and two Parian 
busts under glass cases. They are supposed to be 
Luther and Melanchthon ; I think they are Lucifer 
And Mammon. Well, the poor little thing is used to 
it, and does't know what is the matter. Wait till 
Monday week, — I mean till some future day, — and 
she shall know, but not now. She doesn't think it 
a homelike house, she says ! 

" I shall be coming back almost any time now, as 
soon as I can get away. It's dreadful to leave her, 
— ' I'm wae to think upo' yon den, e'en for her sake,' 
— but I must get back before exams, and she is really 
all right, only not of course wholly strong yet. She 
will come back next term ; and meanwhile she is to 
travel with an old servant who was her nurse, and 
who has some spark of humanity in her composition. 



302 PEGGY. 

" I'm coming back, I tell you ; at least, something 
is coming back. I don't say whether it will be the 
Goat or the Wolf, or what ; I'm pretty sure that — 

" * Lawk a mercy on me, 
This is none of I ! ' 

" Good-bye, you feathered things ! How do feathers 
feel ? How do you get about ? There are good points 
about the creature, I can see that ; you can see in the 
dark — but so could the Wolf ! and it would be nice to 
be able to ruffle up your feathers and put a tongue 
in every wound of Puggy's — but she is gone, isn't 
she ? Alas I and if you don't know Shakespeare when 
I talk him, why, you are an ignorant set, and don't 
deserve your names. This is for the Innocent, too, 
mind ! Give her my love, and tell her — never mind ; 
I'll tell her myself. 

" So no more at jiresent. Respected Fowls, from 
your most obedient, humble servant, 

"The Hybrid." 

The three girls were silent for a moment 
after Gertrude had folded the letter again. 
Then, ^^Do you suppose she will really be 
changed?" asked Peggy. "I — I don't think 
I want Grace to be changed, do you, girls ?" 

" That depends ! " said Bertha, with her 
chin on her hands, in her favourite judicial 



THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 303 

attitude. " Of course it would be despair if 
we should lose her real, true self. If she could 
only stay Grace Wolfe, and change her point 
of view, why, then — " 

" That is just what she will do, I feel sure 
of it," said Gertrude, earnestly. " She has 
been through an experience — oh, we can't 
know what it has been, girls, because we are 
just plain people, you know, and Grace is — 
well, I think she has genius, or something 
very like it. If only the power and the sweet- 
ness and brightness are turned into helping, 
you see, instead of hindering — oh, how 
much' she can do ! and I believe she's going 
to do it, too. But come. Fluffy, I must go 
home. Won't you come, Peggy ? We have 
half an hour before study-time." 

Peggy followed only too gladly along the 
corridor ; it was always a treat to spend half 
an hour in the Owl's Nest. Gertrude was 
first; she opened the door of her room, and 
paused on the threshold with a low cry. 
Bertha and Peggy hurried forward and looked 
over her shoulder — to see a strange sight. 

Something — or somebody — was sitting 



304 PEGGY. 

on the window-seat. Something gray and 
soft. It had a round feathered head, with 
two feathery horns jutting from it; it had 
round bright eyes, which blinked curiously 
at the astonished girls. Below the head were 
— arms, were they, or wings? They were 
feathery too, and they drooped over some- 
thing that might be a skirt, though no feet 
were visible. In the gathering twilight the 
figure sat on the window-seat and blinked, 
looking like nothing that was in heaven or 
earth; and the three girls stood and stared, 
holding each other's hands. Presently the 
silence was broken. 

" Bubo Virginianus ! " said a grave, melodi- 
ous voice from imder the feathers. " The 
Great Horned Owl. Description : Large and 
strongly organised; ear-tufts large, erectUe; 
bill strong, fully curved; wing rather long; 
third quill usually longest ; tail short ; legs 
and toes — " 

" Grace ! " cried Gertrude Merryweather. 

" Tu whit ! " replied the figure. " I may 
also in this connection remark, tu whoo ! 
This well-known bird is a resident in all the 



THE END AND THE BEGHSTNING. 305 

New England schools — I should say States 
— throughout the year. It is not so com- 
mon in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and 
Rhode Island as in the other States, where, 
in the vast tracts of forest, it is quite 
abundant. Samuels. Easy there ! spare the 
Plumage ! " 

The three girls had flung themselves upon 
the strange figure, which flapped its arms for 
a moment, as if contemplating flight. Then, 
waving them off with one arm, it lifted the 
feathered head, and gazed at them with 
melancholy blue eyes. 

" Tu whit ! " repeated the Scapegoat. " I 
may be allowed, in this connection, to repeat, 
tu whoo ! Don't kill me, Innocent ; I should 
be less useful dead." 

It did seem as if they would hug her to 
death. They laughed, they cried, they ques- 
tioned, they talked, all in one breath ; no one 
would have recognised the sedate Owls or the 
sensible Peggy. Grace regarded them with 
grave benignity, as she untied the owl's head, 
and loosed the feathered cape from her 
shoulders. 



306 PEGGY. 

'* Rather neat, I thought?" she said, turn- 
ing the heiid around on her hand. " The beak 
is a little wobbly, but the general character — 
eh ? — is pretty good ? I couldn't manage the 
toes and claws; there wasn't time, and, 
besides, they would have excited remark, 
even if the weather had been warm enough 
to make them comfortable for travelling. 
Well, my Snowy, my Fluffy, how is it ? Is 
there room for another Owl in the forest?" 

'' Oh, Grace ! " cried Bertha. 

** Oh, my dear ! " cried Grertrude ; and their 
arms were around her again, while Peggy 
sat down on the floor and fairly burst into 
tears. 

Grace was silent for a little, her head rest- 
ing on Gertrude's shoulder. When she spoke, 
her voice had not its usual even flow, but 
hesitated, almost faltered, now and then. 

*•* I am going to try ! " she said. " It will 
take a long time, my Owls, and you will have 
to be very pitient with me. I shall probably 
never be wholly domesticated, but — but you 
will help me, and the Innocent here will help 
me ; won't you, Innocent ? '* 



THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 307 

" Oh, Grace, if I only could ? but what can 
I do? I don't see how I can ever do 
anything ! " 

"You began it all!" said Grace. "The 
way you looked — that night I made you go 
out, little Peggy. You didn't know, but the 
face of an Innocent can be a terrible thing, 
and I saw, and knew — things I hadn't 
known before. No need of -going back to 
that now. But — Snowy — Samuels says I 
make an amusing pet in captivity. You'll 
try me?" 

" Won't we ! " cried the Snowy Owl. 
" Grace, dear, we'll all try together. Oh, we 
all have to keep trying, don't we, all our 
lives long ? It wouldn't be worth anything if 
we didn't have to try, to work and fight for 
it. It shall be we three against the world, — 
the Snowy, the Fluffy, and the Horny. No, 
we four, for what should we do without our 
Peggy ? Get up, Peggy, you ridiculous child ; 
stop crjdng, and come and sit here close by 



us." 



" Oh ! " cried Peggy. " Isn't there some 
kind of Owl that I could be? I am too 



308 PEGGY. 

stupid, of course, but I might be a screech- 
owl, don't you think so, Snowy?" 

Grace held up her hand. "Forbid the 
thought ! " she said, gravely. " Who would 
get us our mice ? We must have a Human 
Being connected with us. I think of moving 
into Bedlam, as Colney has a fine assortment 
of mice on hand generally. I refuse bats, 
probably on account of the strong musky 
odour, but a mouse dragged across the floor 
of my cage fills me with excitement. Sam- 
uels, part of it at least. No, we must have a 
Human Being in the Owlery, and that Human 
Being must be the Innocent. We Four 
against the World, then ! Hands ' on it, my 
Owls!" 

The four girls stood up, and, joining hands, 
looked in each other's faces. "We Four 
against the World ! " they repeated. " The 
Snowy, the Fluffy, the Homy, and the Inno- 
cent ; Hurrah for us ! " and the shout they 
raised brought the whole corridor running to 
see what was going on. 

THE END. 



VB 37094